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 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 also liked this comment by the author:
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 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:
- A Few Right Thinking Men (2010)
- A Decline in Prophets(2011)
- Miles Off Course (2012)
- Paving the New Road (2012)
- Men Formerly Dressed (2013)
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
Series: Rowland Sinclair
Genre: Historical Mystery