There is something so completely delicious about Rowland Sinclair and his louche band of comrades, the rapscallion Australian heroes of Sulari Gentill’s 1930s-set series. I could eat them all up with a silver spoon: flamboyant poet Milton Isaacs, loyal landscape painter Clyde Watson Jones, frequently nude sculptress Edna Higgins, and Rowland Sinclair himself, rich, connected, tough, determined, and honourable in a political sense, if not always within the confines of early twentieth century upper-class society. They are as merry to join as your most entertaining group of friends, though (I assume) get imprisoned and accused of murder at a higher rate.
In this, Rowland’s sixth mystery, a secretive family subject is brought to light after the gun used in his father’s death some thirteen years earlier was found in a drained dam at the family’s country homestead in Yass. His friends had all been led to believe that the late Henry Sinclair had died in a much more respectable and quiet way, and Rowland’s own family has been disinclined to discuss the issue until now, when it seems apparent that the finger of blame is now pointing squarely at our hero himself. So Rowland and all his friends avail themselves of now-classic cars and now-frightening airplanes to arrive in New South Wales’ Southern Tablelands, clear Rowly’s name, and do their darnedest to offend everyone’s sensibilities, make Rowly’s stuffed-shirt brother Wilfred shout about respectability and save the day.
With cameo appearances from historical figures even I recognised—Bob Menzies in the Sinclair kitchen, Edna Walling in the garden, and Kate Leigh grinning lasciviously at Rowly in a jailhouse crowd—and a real sense of fun to the book alongside some quite genuine tension, this is historical crime for those in the know and those—like me—who can barely remember what happened last weekend, let alone what the proper etiquette and outfit would be for a spot of post-murder supper. My one criticism would be that there is an inappropriately randy character with the exact same name as my father (who admittedly would have been four years old at the time), but as long as you are not me or my sisters, you could probably overlook that rather alarming moment without thinking anxiously about calling your father with a stern tone.
A Murder Unmentioned is a November release. And you should buy it.