Review: A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill


Title: A Few Right Thinking Men {Rowland Sinclair #1}

Author: Sulari Gentill

Published: September 1st 2017, Pantera Press

Status: Read April 2019 – courtesy Pantera Press/Netgalley



My Thoughts:

Sulari Gentill’s historical mystery series featuring Rowland Sinclair has long been on my radar. I regret that it has taken me a decade to start it, though on the plus side, there are a further eight books ahead of me to enjoy.

A Few Right Thinking Men is set in New South Wales, Australia during the early 1930’s. It is a period of great political upheaval where, in the wake of The Great Depression, tensions are mounting resulting in the rapid growth of extremist organisations.

Rowland Sinclair, affectionately known as Rowly to his friends, is content to stay out of politics. As the youngest son of the wealthy and influential Sinclair family, he has largely been left to his own devices, allowing him to pursue his passion for painting, and support a revolving cast of fellow artists at his well appointed home, Woodlands House, on Sydney’s North Shore.

That is until Rowly’s uncle, for whom he is named, is killed during a home invasion, and rumour places the blame on an aggressive group within the New Guard, a far right political organisation focused on destroying the ‘red threat’ of communism.

“Till now, he had crowded his mind with his work and with things more mundane, but as he stood where his uncle had died, he was staggered by a deep sense of loss, and outrage.

Though Rowly’s goal is to bring uncle’s murderer to justice, the mystery surrounding his death is not really the focus of this novel. With the local detective reluctant to investigate, Rowly is convinced by his friends and houseguests Milton, Clyde and Edna to take on Clyde’s identity and infiltrate the New Guard, unwittingly putting himself at the epicentre of the dissent. It is the clandestine machinations of the various political organisations that is center stage here.

“He’d just have to hope to God that democracy would survive all these right thinking men.

The authors research is meticulous, sadly I’m almost wholly ignorant of my country’s past, but it’s understandable that Gentill would enthusiastically delve into this ‘fascinating and ludicrous’ period of Australian history. The situation, as the conflict between the spectrum of ideologies escalates, would be farcical if not for the seriousness with which they regard themselves. Each is convinced they are the only ‘right thinking men’ fit to lead the state, if not the entire country.

“You are who you are. Given your gilded background, you could be insufferable, but you’re not. I wouldn’t have you be anything else.”

I thought the characterisation of both the main and supporting characters was very well done. Rowly is kind, generous, thoughtful and loyal. For the most part apolitical, Rowly is well aware that his background makes him an enemy of the far left, and his lifestyle pits him against the far right. His older brother Wilford is contemptuous of his youngest brother’s ways, but Rowly is wonderfully supported by Edna, a beautiful sculptress with whom he is in love, communist poet Milt, and fellow painter, Clyde, and not just because he funds their modus vivendi.

A Few Right Thinking Men is an entertaining and astute novel, rich with history, drama, and engaging characters. I’m looking forward to continuing with the series.



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