A rich cast of memorable characters makes this beautifully written book quite irresistible. The supposed centrepiece - the Hamilton Case - is almost peripheral to the story of Sam Obeysekere and his dysfunctional family, while De Kretser's intense prose brings the period and setting gloriously alive. You will imagine that you can smell the decay of the jungle, and you will certainly not remain unmoved as the tale evolves.
All the same, anger rose in me like bile as I discovered the full extent of my father's profligacy. His desk was jammed with letters of credit, unpaid bills, bounced cheques, notices of arrears. Yet the week before he died he had thrown a party for three hundred guests at our place by the sea in Bentota. Kumar assured me you could have strolled across the lagoon on the champagne corks.