A Few Right Thinking Men
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.
“The real enemy is Labor’s Jack Lang and the Communist hordes into whose hands he plays… What say I introduce you to some chaps?”
“Right thinking men. Loyalists who love this country… Rowland, I think you could be moving with the wrong crowd.”
*Shortlisted for Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book
The Sydney Morning Herald
"impressive stories set against the politics of the 1930s... cleverly picked up by the small Pantera Press..."
Marele Day, award-winning novelist
'Witty dialogue, lively characters, and a shrewd political awareness of the times.'
Bookseller + Publisher magazine
'... historically correct, gripping, no-holds-barred novel... an enjoyable read for young and old.'
"It takes a talented writer to imbue history with colour and vivacity. It is all the more impressive when the author creates a compelling narrative...First-time author Sulari Gentill creates vivid characters throughout...put simply, Gentill shows great understanding of both craft and structure....A Few Right Thinking Men is the first in a planned series by Sulari Gentill. This reviewer is heartened by the news, which demonstrates Pantera Press's willingness to support the continuing development of a talented emerging writer. It is rare to find such an assured debut as A Few Right Thinking Men. The novel deserves to be both read and remembered as an insight into the Australia that wasl its conflicting ideologies, aims and desiresl the hallmarks of a country still maturing."
"A Few Right Thinking Men is a richly drawn and involving Australian historical crime novel... it's a cut above much Australian crime. It's well researched and atmospheric, with a brisk pace, colourful characters and charming period dialogue."
"Gentill has chosen a fascinating yet little-known period in history, a time of political turbulence when our country teetered on the brink of revolution. Fans of classic crime fiction will also be pleased to learn that, with her amateur detective Rowland Sinclair, she has brought back the gentleman sleuth but with a difference: he's a larrikin Lord Peter Wimsey, with a penchant for living la vie de boheme." (Christine Cremen)
"...fun and intelligent story revolving around the fiery period when NSW was on the brink of civil war as the Harbour Bridge was being erected..."
"absorbing... the novel well written, the prose flowing and the pace well maintained...dialogue quite witty, with some genuine laugh out loud moments... a refreshing balance between drama and humour...Sulari Gentill a definite name to watch in the future" (Michelle Goldsmith)
“This is a wonderfully gripping debut crime novel... Although this novel comes with comparisons to the popular Phryne Fisher series by prolific Australian crime writer Kerry Greenwood, it would also be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in Australia’s history. It is extremely well researched and beautifully brings to life an era of Sydney that is both fascinating and lively. The author is a former student of astrophysics, a lawyer by profession and a truffle farmer by occupation. She is also married to an historian, which might explain her enchantment with the era and her impeccable eye of detail. And the good news is, she is already working on a second Rowland Sinclair novel!” (Annabel Blay) (To buy A Few Right Thinking Men at Abbeys, click here)
"Gentill has written an immensely readable first novel, and has the second Rowland Sinclair story under her belt already. Get used to her name. We are going to be hearing a lot more of it." (To buy A Few Right Thinking Men at Booktopia, click here)
Courier Mail (Mary Philips)
"...a thoroughly enjoyable foray into those long-ago days when national politics could never be classified as dull... an absorbing story about a crucial but underwritten slice of Australian history. The narrative and characters she has created complement the historical facts and give colour to events that are at risk of dropping from public consciousness. Francis de Groot's infamous action in intervening to cut the ribbon at the Harbour Bridge opening, the Great Depression biting hard into people's lives and the conspiracies and riots of this volatile era should capture the interest of readers looking for meaning as well as pleasure in their novels."
"With its well rounded and charismatic characters, the palpable real-life politics behind the fiction of this engaging story is what makes A Few Right Thinking Men a welcome and highly recommendable addition to the genre of Australian historical fiction. A new Rowly Sinclair novel is planned for 2011. Bring it on!"
“One of the highlights for me was the wit, the humour, and the dialogue between these characters. This is all masterful, and I was guffawing even in the midst of a grim reality that could have ultimately changed Australia from the lovable place we know (albeit filled with the world's most poisonous snakes and spiders, not to mention crocs and jellyfish) to a place of dictatorship. Thank God that didn't happen! ... A Few Right Thinking Men could have been a dark account, almost a documentary, one event leading into the next. But the addition of Rowly, Wilfred, Ernest, Kate, Edna, Clyde and especially Milt (I love him) and their enduring friendship, the barely contained romance (which is masterfully done,) draws one in and makes this a story where the reader is completely invested in the lives, emotions, and outcomes of these people. From the first page to the last, everything flows, woven perfectly, so that we see the big picture of Australian politics in the 30s along with the microcosm of Rowland's life, friendships and family.”
"Sulari does a great job of weaving fact and fiction together. In Q&A notes at the back of the novel (a nice touch), the author says she was attracted to the ‘nuttiness of this time’. Her evocation of the era and witty exchanges among the characters, especially the Woodlands House residents, reminded me of the plays of Oscar Wilde, whom she cites as an influence. I did think on finishing A Few Right Thinking Men that it was more of a historical political thriller than a crime novel: the Australian Crime Fiction review notes the murder in it is ‘more on the incidental side’ and there is more violence threatened than enacted. I think this is due in part to the outlandishness of the plot: the wild plans of the proto-Fascists, their cloak-and-dagger codes and penchant for fancy dress undermine the seriousness of the threat they posed and the criminality of their plans. As Rowland Sinclair reflects of the time, “The whole state’s gone mad… we’re all following crazy people into revolution.” Of course, on reflection, history is full of reasons to be very afraid when paranoid, morally certain, right thinking men are on rise. A Few Right Thinking Men is a fascinating, highly entertaining read, which I suspect will attract a wide audience in addition to readers of crime fiction." [Angela is interviewing Sulari at the Crime & Justice Festival in Melbourne at noon on July 17 at The Abbotsford Convent - 1 St Heliers Street Abbotsford.]
Central Coast Advocate (Alesha Evans)
"...an historical crime novel with a difference. Set in Australia during the 1930s, in a time when the world was feeling the pinch of the Great Depression, A Few Right Thinking Men is a murder mystery rife with political scandal and steeped in Australian history. However, you do not have to be an expert in politics or history to appreciate Gentill's unique and clever writing. Gentill has created a cast of unique and likeable characters who drive the novel with their humorous and witty dialogue... As the novel progresses, Gentill accurately documents Australia's fear of revolution in the face of communism and fascism and the lengths that some right-thinking men were prepared to go to in order to protect their way of life. Ultimately, however, it is Gentill's vivid historical descriptions of 1930s Australia that makes A Few Right Thinking Men such an enjoyable and informative read. From the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to descriptions of life in rural Yass, Gentill ensures the reader feels at home in 1930s Australia. For those who have an interest in the dark side of Australian politics and history, or even those who just love a good murder mystery to solve, A Few Right Thinking Men is highly recommended."
“The characters are wonderfully drawn. Rowland and friends are eccentric, but not overly so, they fit within that period of history well. The members of the New and Old Guards are nicely shadowy, dedicated to the cause, slightly mad in their own right, but not cartoonish or overdone. There are light touches of humour, and there are some sad moments - the loss of Rowland the elder, the descent of Rowland's mother into complete madness are deftly drawn... a good book for readers who like their murder and mayhem more on the incidental side. It's not that hard to pick the why very early on, and the who narrows down as events progress. But the murder doesn't read as the point of this book. It's the overall environment, and that short, sharp, mad period of Australian history, which is really very well handled.”
Ozzie Book Reviews
"Sulari captures the heart of Australia, highlighting a mad period of her history in a fictional story that is intriguing and entertaining. Her characters appeal to the reader while instructing the uninformed about the past... even if you have no interest in history, the story itself is wonderful. A murder mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, a mystery without the blood and horror of most modern authors. I will be watching with interest to see what further adventures Mr Rowland Sinclair is involved in and I look forward to reading more of Ms Gentill's works."
'A Few Right Thinking Men is a historically correct, gripping, no-holds-barred novel. In the tradition of historical action novels, a background storyline accompanies the character’s journey. It does, however, deal with relatively modern themes and is fillled with spies, murder and intrigue. It also features comic relief from minor characters. A Few Right Thinking Men is an enjoyable read for young and old.'
“I didn’t know all this about the 1930s and I’m a grandmother. I like the way Sulari lets the reader come to their own conclusions on things.”
"I'm lucky enough to have been given a signed copy of Sulari Gentill's A Few Right Thinking Men by a friend. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - and why wouldn't I? It's set in my favourite era, it's a crime novel, it's Australian, it's well written and well-researched and it opens a fascinating window into Sydney society of the 1930s. I kept wishing that I'd thought of it!...I loved all the characters and am thoroughly looking forward to the sequel where Gentill can push forward with their development."
"This was a delightful book to read...The increasingly bizarre plots to ‘save’ the country are credibly depicted and do indeed demonstrate how easy it is for people who believe a little too fervently to move from doing good works to dangerous ones in the blink of an eye...The characters too are nicely drawn. There was potential for them all to be a bit stereotyped and one-dimensional but they’re all nicely rounded out...The book is rounded out by a gentle humour and some imaginative interpretations of what might have happened behind the scenes at some well known moments in our history. I was easily and quickly lost in the story and keen to find out how it would all unfold. I read the whole thing in a couple of sittings and would recommend it to those who don’t mind their mysteries taking a back seat to great settings, interesting historical details and warm, lively characters. It’s a delicious treat of a book."
Canberra Times (Ian McFarlane)
"With its deliberate title pun, [AFRTM] introduces wealthy artist Roland Sinclair, who runs open house to hopeful poets and beautiful women, as communist agitators confront New Guard fascists during Australia's Great Depression of the early 1930s....Sulari Gentill includes a well pitched murder mystery..."
"...the start of a promising new series set in 1930s Sydney about a character who is a little like a male Phryne Fisher. Rowland Sinclair is a gentleman artist who comes from a privileged background but whose sympathies are with bohemians, lefties and ratbags. It's a rich political and cultural era to explore and Gentill has a lot of fun with a hero who is always getting paint on his immaculate tailoring."
"... absolutely captured my imagination... The phrase "bringing history to life" is overused to the point of cliche, but this is truly what Gentill manages. It's a fantastic achievement."
"brilliant, superb, amazing, and talented... a magnificent book to get the imagination going and the creative juices flowing"
Historical crime fiction at its best: gripping, beautifully-written and deeply-researched. The second book in the ‘Rowland Sinclair’ series set in the early 1930's and based on extraordinary yet real events.
The fifth book in the Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series by Award-Winning Author Sulari Gentill
The sixth book in the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mystery series. Bowlers, Bohemians, and Bloodshed… The 1930s were to die for!
Historical crime fiction at its best: gripping, beautifully-written and deeply-researched. The fourth book in the ‘Rowland Sinclair’ series set in the early 1930's and based on extraordinary yet real events.
Historical crime fiction at its best: gripping, beautifully-written and deeply-researched. The third book in the ‘Rowland Sinclair’ series set in the early 1930's and based on extraordinary yet real events.