In Ernest Ralph Gorse, Patrick Hamilton creates one of fiction’s most captivating anti-heroes, whose heartlessness and lack of scruple are matched only by the inventiveness and panache with which he swindles his victims. With great deftness and precision Hamilton exposes how his dupes’ own naivete, snobbery or greed make them perfect targets. These three novels are shot through with the brooding menace and sense of bleak inevitability so characteristic of the author. There is also vivid satire and caustic humour.
Gorse is thought to be based on the real-life murderer Neville Heath, hanged in 1946.
Patrick Hamilton was born in 1904, and achieved early success as a novelist and playwright, his first novel published in his early twenties. He wrote several other novels and a play, Rope, before he was thirty. Both Rope and another play, Gaslight, were adapted for the big screen, the former by Alfred Hitchcock. His novels include Craven House, The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, The Plains of Cement (a trilogy later published together under the title Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky), Hangover Square and The Slaves of Solitude. He died in 1962, aged fifty-eight, alcoholism undoubtedly a factor in his early death.
‘The entertainment value of this brilliantly told story could hardly be higher’
‘a marvellous novelist who’s grossly neglected’
‘A riveting dissector of English life’
‘His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of his more celebrated contemporaries George Orwell and Graham Greene.’
‘He wrote some of the best fiction I’ve come across’
DAN RHODES, GUARDIAN
Paperback 624pp, ISBN 0 948238 34 5; £9.95