A Decline in Prophets by Sulari Gentill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I seem to be entrenched in 1930s Australia! It began, of course, with the first book of the Rowland Sinclair series, A Few Right Thinking Men, For Love of Country, The Big Smoke, then Razor: Tilly Devine, Kate Leigh and the Razor Gangs and now, this book! I was excited though to see a couple of the Razor gangs crims showing up in A Decline in Prophets -it was within the right setting, of course, time and location wise. I guess I was a lot more excited because I’ve just finished the book, Razor, so they are very familiar historical personages.
This review is in relation of the second book in the Rowland Sinclair series but there won’t be any spoilers from book 1
This novel opens with the return journey of Rowland Sinclair and his friends from abroad. They have been away for 8 months and are keen to return home to Sydney. This journey over the seas, though filled with interesting characters, was fraught with danger especially to Rowland. He found himself, yet again & again, implicated in matters that blacken his family name; to the displeasure of his older brother.
My first impression of this series was that it could’ve been a mix between Lord Peter Wimsey and Phryne Fisher. This series is set roughly around the same era (1930s) though in Sydney and there are familiar traits in characters etc however whilst Miss Fisher styled herself as an investigator, Rowland Sinclair just happened to have the knack of being at the wrong place at the wrong time at a criminal rate. He is rather an amateur sleuth which, at times, rather frustrated me as a reader. And being rather conservative myself, I’m leaning towards his brother and at times, just do not understand their chosen lifestyles which made it harder to sympathise with these characters. I am not judging anybody their chosen lifestyles as I’m sure you’ll wonder at my chosen lifestyle. However, I just want to be clear that this is the reason I like rather than love this novel, in that I found it hard to put myself in their perspectives.
A most pleasant surprise, however, is the humour. I actually chuckled out loud a couple of times and this rarely ever happens with my reading. I don’t recall the first book being this humorous. I think there were probably real historical personages in book 1 too except that I wasn’t that familiar with political characters… but these 2 factors are what I enjoyed most so far in the series, the historical personages popping in and the humorous interaction between Rowland and his friends.
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