Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Few Right Thinking Men: Sulari Gentill

An introduction to the book at the publisher's site:
In Australia’s 1930s, the Sinclair name is respectable and influential, yet the youngest son Rowland - an artist - has a talent for scandal.
Even with the unemployed lining the streets, Rowland lives in a sheltered world... of wealth, culture and impeccable tailoring with the family fortune indulging his artistic passions and friends... a poet, a painter and a brazen sculptress.
Mounting political tensions fueled by the Great Depression take Australia to the brink of revolution. Rowland Sinclair is indifferent to the politics... until a brutal murder exposes an extraordinary and treasonous conspiracy.
I was drawn to this book for several reasons. I enjoy historical mysteries that take place from the end of World War I through the years of World War II. A Few Right Thinking Men is set in Australia, and I know very little about that country and its history. It is set in the 1930's, and I knew I would enjoy learning more about Australia during this period.

I had mixed feelings about the characters in the book. Most of the characters are from the richer or more influential families in New Sound Wales. Although I often enjoy reading about the upper classes, it was hard to sympathize with their attitudes and their lack of knowledge of the difficult life of the lower classes. As an artist, Rowland has gathered about him friends who have less money and is supporting them, which does not endear him to his family. Having these disparate groups come together does provide a picture of both sides and I think that is done very effectively.

As I  read the book, I did not know how true to life the story is, so I found it somewhat unrealistic. And at times I was irritated with Rowland at risking his own life and well being and that of his friends and family as he searches for a murderer. It took a while to get into the story, but about halfway in I was hooked and enjoyed it to the end.

The author discusses her research at the end of the eBook version that I read, and I really enjoyed her notes about her process of writing.
   The events and timelines are also pretty accurate. I may have tampered with the date of the Bong Bong Picnic races but otherwise the rallies, riots, trials etc occurred on the dates stipulated in the novel.
    I found I didn’t need to fictionalise the events of the era ... the facts were fascinating and ludicrous enough. What I did do was write the personal story of Rowland Sinclair (who is a product of my imagination) into the extraordinary events of the early thirties.
I also liked this comment by the author:
I think if there is any message in the book, it is about the earnestness of the men on all sides of the extremely divided political spectrum.
I found this to be a very good read (and educational, a bonus) and I plan to continue the series. The books are available in the US only on the Kindle. I won't usually pay so much for a Kindle edition, but, since I cannot get the books in paper at a reasonable amount, these are worth it.

Per Wikipedia, this is the order of the books:
  1. A Few Right Thinking Men (2010)
  2. A Decline in Prophets(2011)
  3. Miles Off Course (2012)
  4. Paving the New Road (2012)
  5. Men Formerly Dressed (2013)
Please see these reviews:

Margot Spotlights the book at Confession of a Mystery Novelist...
Two reviews at Fair Dinkum Crime, Kerrie's and Bernadette's.
Rob Kitchin's review at The View from the Blue House.

  ----------------------------------
Publisher: Pantera Press, 2010
Length:  368 pages
Format: eBook
Series:  Rowland Sinclair
Setting: Australia
Genre:  Historical Mystery

 

26 comments:

  1. Thank you for your comments on this book. It is sitting on my TBR stacks, and I keep intending to read it -- but then a book or two or five keep falling into my lap!

    My attitude about the class issues would run parallel to yours, but if the book is this interesting, I'll pursue it. Sometimes a reader can learn something one doesn't know, which is always a good thing. And this writer is terrific.

    So, hope you have a nice Mother's Day, with good food and books involved somehow.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, thanks for the good wishes. I did have a nice Mother's Day, relaxing, reading, my husband is cooking dinner, and my son will clean up. I am sure you will enjoy this book when you get to it. It did take me a while to get into it, but very happy with it overall.

      Delete
  2. TracyK: I really want to read this book but have not seen it any bookstores. I keep hoping I will find a paper copy. I continue to hold to reading paper books. So far I have made but one exception.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, Bill. I still always prefer paper books. But since I have bought a lot of Kindle books, I am planning to try to fit in at least one a month.

      Delete
  3. I'm glad you liked the book enough to keep reading the series though it is so annoying to hear the books are hard to come by overseas.

    I too worry at the realism of these types of wealthy characters that pop up here and in other historical crime novels (e.g. Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher stories) - but I do like Rowly and his friends and their well-meaning ways. I like to imagine some variation of them exists :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bernadette, the e-books are not that expensive, but I would just rather have paper. But for some the e-book version is preferable.

      Delete
  4. Tracy - Thanks for the kind mention. I'm so glad you liked this well enough to follow on in the series. I really do enjoy it myself. The stories are so well-written and I love the sense of place and time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margot, I loved learning about this time in Australia. I had not realized how little I know about Australia's history.

      Delete
  5. Since it came up, I am going to mention that I can't get into the Phrynne Fisher series because of the wealth and privilege involved. The characters just don't strike a chord with me. However, I love Corinna Chapman, the star of Kerry Greenwood's other series. She is down to earth, and seemingly, like a real person -- well, a real person who lives with witches and other eccentric neighbors, owns a bakery (of muffins, no less), has a Mouse Patrol with two smart cats, etc. I spend virtual vacations in that location with Chapman and her friends. And I'm irked that I have no vacation time right now to join them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, I have the first in the Phrynne Fisher series, but haven't read it yet. I haven't tried Corinna Chapman yet either. I will have to compare the two.

      Delete
  6. Hello Tracy.

    Thank you for taking the time to review AFRTM - I'm so glad you enjoyed it. The events of the time do seem pretty far-fetched, I know. I think I'm probably attracted to this era because it strikes me as madder than most!

    Cheers

    Sulari

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sulari. The title of this first book is a mouthful. It was great to learn about this time in history in Australia, and I did like very much that you showed how each side was sincere in their beliefs in what was right for their country. Looking forward to more adventures with Rowland.

      Delete
  7. Tracy, glad you enjoyed this one and look forward to hearing about the rest of them. It's not crying out to me to be read though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Col, it isn't exactly your kind of book. On the other hand, definitely not a cozy either.

      Delete
  8. Always imnterested in Australian literature now that I have family out there - thanks TracyK - I'll have to get paper editions though ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sergio, this is a great way to get a little Australian history. With family in Australia, maybe you won't have difficulty getting paper copies.

      Delete
    2. This looks like a series I would like! I just ordered the first book! Due to your enthusiasm for Mysteries, Thrillers and Polars ( French word for dectectives) I have enjoyed my second really good thriller: Alex ( Pierre Lemaitre). My review is on the website.... Ready to read another good mystery! Thanks!

      Delete
    3. Nancy, I do hope you like this series. I think it has many good points. I enjoyed your review of Alex also.

      Delete
  9. Ah, you read it and enjoyed it! Good to know and thanks for the review and the reading order. I have a couple of Australian books in my stacks like Gary Disher for starters. Need to make the effort to read one this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keishon, I did like this book. I have read one by Gary Disher also, and plan to contine reading that series (the Challis and Destry series). Also would like to try the Wyatt series.

      Delete
  10. I'm not usually into historical mysteries, but your review has gotten interested me, Tracy: thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Tracy, with so many reviews right here, I'm encouraged to read this book, especially since it's the first one in the series whose titles won't disappoint the reader, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Prashant, I hope you do read this book. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

      Delete
  12. I've heard a lot of good things about this book and although your praise seems more measured I hope to read it sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, I think you will like it. The series continues to get much praise.

      Delete