Sunday, 28 January 2018

Rope by Patrick Hamilton Review

Two men murder an acquaintance, stuff the corpse into a chest and then invite the victim’s father round to eat dinner off it! Will they be found out or will they get away with it? 

Patrick Hamilton’s Rope remains a highly entertaining play some 90+ years after it was written. It helps that I’ve never seen the Alfred Hitchcock movie so the story was all new to me and I didn’t know what was going to happen. The play grabbed my attention right away with the ominous beginning and Hamilton skilfully ratchets up the tension and momentum throughout. And the ending, despite being fairly conventional, was well done. 

While it was intriguing, the setup as a whole felt like a thought experiment and the killers’ motivation bothered me in being enormously contrived. They acted less like real people and more like characters in a play. Ditto the unnecessary risk of placing the body in plain view, yet hidden, though it is an effectively exciting prop for the audience so I can see why it was done. That and the way one of the murderers broke down when confronted was a bit silly too. 

Those are minor complaints though and took little away from my reading enjoyment. Rope is a very compelling and gripping tale of murder most foul. And if reading plays isn’t your speed, I also recommend Patrick Hamilton’s equally thrilling dark novel, Hangover Square.

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