Review: A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN, Sulari Gentill

  • first published Pantera Press 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-9807418-1-0
  • 349 pages
  • Source: my local library
  • #1 in the Rowland Sinclair series

Synopsis (Pantera Press)

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 & impeccable tailoring with the family fortune indulging his artistic passions & friends… a poet, a painter & a brazen sculptress.
Mounting political tensions fuelled 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 & treasonous conspiracy.

My take

As the 21st century rolls on, and events that made us in the 19th and 20th get further away, Australians are in desperate need of good story tellers whose fictions are firmly embedded in an authentically drawn past. Last year Geoff McGeachin did it for me with THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL set in an Australia recovering from World War II, and now comes Sulari Gentill’s series featuring artist and gentleman Rowland Sinclair, set in the period leading up to that war.

A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN is #1 in the series, and now there are two more for me to track down, A DECLINE IN PROPHETS, and MILES OFF COURSE.

Gentill does a wonderful job of embedding her fictional protagonist Rowland Sinclair into authentic historical detail: Australia in the Great Depression; the Premier of New South Wales seeking to distract the people by building a great bridge across Sydney Harbour; and widely disparate political groups who want to roll time back to the 19th century, or to adopt Communism, or to install Fascism.

Coming from a wealthy landed family Rowly Sinclair is caught in a cleft stick between the old values and his friends who have joined the Reds. And then his uncle Rowland Sinclair is murdered and Rowly’s quest to find the culprits takes him into the third group.

This was an excellent read: well constructed plot, vividly drawn characters, and reminders of the historical events that occupied Australia’s “premier state” in the early 1930s.

My rating: 5.0

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6 thoughts on “Review: A FEW RIGHT THINKING MEN, Sulari Gentill

  1. Hello Kerrie,

    I too have a sense of the last century slipping further and further into the past – it makes me want to grab hold of it before it falls too far behind! Thank you for your review and thanks to both you and Bernardette for you support. It is very valued.

    Warm regards



  2. I loved A Few Right Thinking Men, and have the next two by my bedside, waiting. Lovely escapism into another time. Characters you care about and want to follow their adventures.


  3. I agree about our need for an authentically drawn past and this book does hit the spot in a lot of ways. What I read of it before having to return it to the library (where it was on request), I found charming and I especially enjoyed the insight into NSW political and social history.

    At first I found the Englishness of the atmosphere, tone and aspects of the characters’ language disconcerting, but as I relaxed into it, this became part of the enjoyment (with the humour, it reminded me of PG Wodehouse). The Aussie upperclass of that time would’ve emulated the English, so the portrayal probably rings true.

    I’m looking forward to being able to finish the novel and read on with the series. With luck, it’ll be made into a TV mini-series before long, like the wonderful Miss Phryne Fisher.


  4. Pingback: A fair dinkum month – February 2012 | Fair Dinkum Crime

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