The Gorse Trilogy (“The West Pier”, “Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse”, “Unknown Assailant”)

Patrick Hamilton
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The Gorse Trilogy (“The West Pier”, “Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse”, “Unknown Assailant”)
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Christopher Tayler writes:

A year older than Hamilton, and like him a product of private schools in Hove and London, Gorse is a con man who, ‘had he not been what he was, might have been a highly successful novelist’. As if avenging the sufferings of earlier Hamilton protagonists, he specialises in fleecing credulous women with the aid of alcohol and a superficially dashing manner. Esther Downes, his victim in The West Pier, works in a Brighton sweetshop. Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce, in Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse, is a colonel’s widow with a bogus Anglo-Indian demeanour living in what she calls ‘a pied-à-terre’ in Reading. Unknown Assailant finds Gorse targeting a West London barmaid, Ivy Barton, and her father, a ‘most reactionary’ working-class Tory. Gorse shows a certain satirical flair when equipping himself with grand relatives, winning over Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce, for example, by hinting at the colonial massacres perpetrated by ‘General Gorse of Assandrava’. But his methods are unvarying – talking up a forthcoming windfall, securing and repaying small loans and so on – and his cash takings are not impressive: £500 lifted from Mrs Plumleigh-Bruce is his largest known haul, and after that, Hamilton says, his career started going downhill.

(LRB 29 January 2009)

Published by Black Spring Press Ltd
21 June 2007
Paperback
ISBN: 9780948238345

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