1 November 2021 Susannah

The Rowland Sinclair Series

Writer, Sulari Gentill

Lockdown has seen me reading more crime fiction than usual. Somehow the certainty of a resolved ending, the mental challenge of trying to solve the crime myself, and the familiarity of favourite characters in crime series, has been very soothing and welcome during the stresses of Covid restricted months.

I admit to a particular fondness for British crime – somehow an English village seems the perfect place for a murder (just think how many murders take place in that lethal village of Midsomer!), but I do also enjoy Aussie crime. One of my great favourites is Sulari Gentill, whose Rowland Sinclair series is set mainly in Sydney (though he and his friends do travel within Australia and overseas) and all taking place in the 1930s. Sulari very cleverly weaves in actual historical events and personalities – the New Guard and Fascist movements, for example – and she makes use of newspaper headlines from that era at the start of each chapter. I love her memorable characters – Rowland Sinclair is an artist, has inherited wealth, and is Bohemian in his choice of friends.

They include a sculptor Edna Higgins, an unoriginal poet Milton Isaacs (much given to quoting the works of other poets) and Communist landscape painter Clyde Watson Jones. Rowland has them all living at his Woollahra home and they assist him in solving various crimes.

The first novel in the series, A Few Right-Thinking Men, came out in 2010, and there are now ten books in the series. I know Sulari is planning to write more, which is excellent news.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sulari earlier this year when leading an Australian tour. She was an absolute delight to meet and talk to and I was so intrigued to discover that she writes best when the TV is on in the background – Midsomer Murders seems to work perfectly for her.

In March 2022, next year, I will be leading a literary tour in New England, and on that tour we meet with three wonderful authors – Barry Maitland, whose Brock and Kolla crime series is also wonderful (he has a new book in the series coming out very soon), crime writer Richard Anderson who is a farmer and brings his farming experience into his ‘bush noir’ fiction, and children’s author Sophie Masson who generously shared her writing experiences with my tour group. It was so fabulous to meet these three amazing writers on the tour. For further information, visit: ‘My Country’: A Literary & Artistic Journey through New England and the Hunter Valley – March 2022

Are you a lover of crime fiction? Do you look out for books by Australian authors? Let me know in a comment.

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Featured image credit- Sulari Gentill, https://www.goodreads.com/photo/author/3856582.Sulari_Gentill
Body image credit- A Few Right Thinking Men, by Sulari Gentill, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8176796-a-few-right-thinking-men
Body image credit- Bailed Up, by Tom Roberts – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24207173

Comments (2)

  1. Anneke

    Wholeheartedly agree about the Rowland Sinclair series which I discovered some years ago. Learned a lot of Australian history and culture from it. And dare I say it, came to understand where some of the – to me baffling – political choices of Australia today have their origins.

    As a voracious reader of detective series with historical and cultural dimensions I can recommend Sujata Massey’s books set in 1920ies India. Fascinating look at the culture, the mysteries playing second fiddle.

    Most people know Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, but for a look at contemporary Melbourne try the (also quirky) Corinna Chapman series.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Nice to know that Sulari has Kiwi readers too! Yes, one learns a lot of Aussie history from her books.
      I loved Sujata Massey’s first book, but didn’t think her second quite as good. However, I believe she has a third out, so I will look for that.
      I also really enjoyed Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series, and the very best mystery books ever are CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series.

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