The gun used in Rowland Sinclair's father's death some thirteen years earlier has turned up in a drained dam at the family's country homestead in Yass. And when Rowland offends right-wing New Guard leader Eric Campbell, Campbell uses his influence to set the police to renew their inquiries into Henry Sinclair's death.
Henry's friends had all been led to believe that the wealthy landowner had died in a much more respectable way. Rowland and his elder brother, Wil, had avoided any discussion of the event ever since—in fact the whole family had ducked the issue for over a decade, keeping secret that Sinclair senior was murdered. The possible involvement of the teenage Rowly and his older brother's intervention has been under the radar as well.
But now the finger of blame is pointing squarely at the Sinclair black sheep, a man careless of what society and the authorities think of him. So he and the trio of artist friends who live in his Sydney suburban mansion, and generally have his back, avail themselves of a racing green Gypsy Moth (Rowland is a pioneer in air travel) and a yellow Mercedes sports car (another frightening mode of transport) to arrive in New South Wales' Southern Tablelands, bent on clearing Rowly's name.
With cameo appearances from historical figures—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 contrasting with the quite genuine tension, this is historical crime for those in the know and those who can barely remember what happened last weekend, a story of family secrets and fraternal loyalty. Despite the humor, the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries take a deadly serious look at the 1930s, reflecting our own tumultuous times.
Australian author Gentill's enjoyable sixth Rowland Sinclair mystery (after 2018's Gentlemen Formerly Dressed) explores the early life of her amateur sleuth. When Rowland was 15, his father, Henry, died under mysterious circumstances. Now, in 1933 13 years later the gun that killed Henry has been discovered on the grounds of the Sinclair family home in New South Wales, and the investigation into the crime has been reopened. Rowland arrives back at the estate, where his straitlaced brother, Wilfred, has taken up residence, and the authorities are soon questioning each of them about his possible role in Henry's death. Rowland's "Leninist friends" an arty pack that includes a landscape painter, a sculptress, and a chap with poetic leanings show up to provide moral and investigative support. Each chapter begins with a brief excerpt from an Australian publication, such as the Camperdown Chronicle, that offers insights into the popular culture of the times. Fans of historical mysteries will find a lot to savor.