Book Two in the Rowland Sinclair murder mystery series is just as exciting, entertaining and baffling as the first.
Seven months have passed since Rowland and his companions fled Sydney in self-imposed exile at the end of A Few Right Thinking Men. The trio have begun the journey home aboard the RMS Aquitania, travelling to the USA, then onto Sydney. Three days out of port, Rowland is accused of murder when a man he had an altercation with is found dead the next morning, stabbed by Rowland’s broken walking stick.
Once again, Sulari Gentill mixes fact with fiction, absorbing herself in the 1930s to place her characters and action amongst real life places and events. The chapters are interspersed with news bulletins about Houdini, politics of the day, or the novel’s characters, while her wording is carefully chosen to match the era, whether it be about social manners or conversational references to ‘electric lighting’.
As the story progresses from the ship to Sydney, past characters return including Rowland’s disapproving brother and his companions: Clyde, Milton and sculptress Edna.
Gentill’s writing is utterly marvellous! Her characters are well-rounded and her research into the times seems detailed and faultless. Her ability to weave a mystery is realised through ample humour, surprising depth of emotion, and manipulative prose that keeps you guessing to the end.
Add to this, the return of Rupert Degas as the narrator and you have a faultless blend. Degas is a Man of a Thousand Voices. His seemingly endless repertoire of voices, accents and characterisations is beyond any other audiobook narrator I’ve heard so far, giving the audiobooks of Gentill’s novels the feel of a full-cast play. Even his female characters rarely sound like a falsetto voice.
A Decline in Prophets is a stand-alone novel, despite continuing on from the first. Any backstory you need to know is discretely filled in by the prose. The audiobook was released through Wavesound Audio in January 2017 and runs for approximately 9 hours and 28 minutes. It is available on CD, MP3 CD or eAudio through Wavesound Pty Ltd or as a digital download through audible. The printed Rowland Sinclair Mysteries Series books are available through Pantera Press.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 10