It’s extraordinary to hit the jackpot so early in the year but Rupert Degas is already a contender for one of my top narrators this year. Add to that, the launch of Sulari Gentill’s excellent and award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries and you have quite the deadly double.
A Few Right Thinking Men is the first book in the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, which currently comprises seven novels, all released by Pantera Press. Set in the 1930s, the books follow Rowland Sinclair, a gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective. Any lover of Agatha Christie, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, or other historical crime fiction novels will not be disappointed.
The novel was first published in 2010, with the audiobook released in October 2016. It establishes Rowland’s privileged world which allows him to lead a bohemian life as an artist. As Australia struggles through the Great Depression, tensions mount between political ideologies and Rowland finds himself forced into infiltrating an extremist political cult as he attempts to solve the murder of his Uncle and namesake.
Set against a backdrop of real politics and people of the era, and interspersed with news articles of the day, Gentill’s entertaining and engrossing murder mystery is as much a history lesson as it is a titillating whodunit.
As the narrator, Degas performs the story with an endless repertoire of accents and well-rounded characterisations. Whether Australian, Scottish, Irish, uneducated, pompous or other, Degas provides a level of distinction between his characters that is rarely heard from a narrator. His pacing, comedic timing, and ability to build tension all add to his exceptional performance.
Gentill’s novel is filled with unexpected humour, fallible heroes and complex relationships that make Rowland Sinclair’s world believable and intriguing. The mystery unfolds at a leisurely pace but the story is pushed along by many defining character moments., making A Few Right Thinking Men both fascinating and engrossing.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9