Re: RARA-AVIS: patrick hamilton

Frank Glenewinkel (frank.glenewinkel@Uni-Koeln.DE)
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 15:56:36 +0000 "stephen holden" <> wrote:
> I recently read a novel by Patrick Hamilton, 'Hangover Square', that,
> IMHO, was very noir in its outlook. Has anyone else on the list read
> anything by him?

I read "Hangover Square" last weekend while on a trip to London.
A wonderful book indeed. According to the Hamilton biography
"Through a Glass Darkly" by Nigel Jones, quite a few details of the
story are authobiographic.
Hamilton wrote HS after he had just gone through a most unhappy
love affair (or rather non-affair) with an actress and had at this time
-like many of his heroes- already an alcohol problem (he drank
himself to death in 1961).
Earls Court / London which features prominently in the book was
his home address for many years. Even the two pubs opposite the
tube station where most of the drinking in the novel takes place
can still be found today as Hamilton changed the names just a
little bit.
The fact that the heroes main rival in H.S. is characterized as a
man who had been to jail after knockig over and killing a pedestrian
while driving a car under the influence has its parallel in Hamilton's
life as well: He was hit by a car while walking just off Earls Court
Road in 1932. The event left him hospitalized for months and he
never completely recovered from the physical and psychological
All this might be the reason that the novel has such a feeling of
depressing authenticity.

Even though "Hangover Square" was once published in the green
covered crime and mystery line of Penguin books in the UK, I think
it is in fact more a psychological portrait of a doomed man than a
mystery novel in the true sense of the word. It reminded me more
of Dostoyewsky's "Crime and Punishment" than of the work of a
noir writer.

The only other book I read by Hamilton was the London trilogy
"Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky" from 1935 which was
recently re-published. It has no connection to a crime or mystery at
all (it deals with two desasterous love affairs and the decline of a
girl into prostitution) but carries the same dark mood like "Hangover
Square" and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who enjoyed
this book.


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Frank Glenewinkel
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