Cover Image: Give the Devil His Due

Give the Devil His Due

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“‘I‘ll buy the painting back,’ Rowland said.
‘What if the gallery won’t sell it?’
‘Then I’ll buy the gallery.’”

Rowland Sinclair is a gentleman artist, meaning only that he was raised as the well-educated younger son of a wealthy Australian grazing family and he is a seriously talented painter. It does not mean he dabbles in art as a casual interest. He does have plenty of money, enough to buy that gallery, but the art itself is his passion.

His other passions are his handsome yellow 1927 Mercedes S-class and Ed, the wonderful, beautiful sculptress, Edna Higgins. She and two of their artist mates. Milt the poet, and Clyde the landscape painter, live with Rowly in one of the family’s Sydney mansions, “Woodlands”.

Rowly and Edna’s obvious mutual admiration seems destined never to be consummated, as she knows she picks up and discards admirers easily and she worries that she might do the same to him, so better to stay just friends. Oh how we all look forward to the small tender moments they do manage to share!

It’s 1934, and Rowland has been asked to race his Mercedes at the Maroubra Speedway for a Red Cross charity event. He’s not raced before, but he’s very proud of the power of his machine and has been teamed up with famous racing driver Joan Richmond and a brash young actor named Errol Flynn.

My Goodreads review includes a photo captioned: Maroubra Speedway, 1934

Gentill is one of the best at positioning her characters realistically into the society of the day. I have to keep looking up names to see if they are real people or not. Joan Richmond and Errol Flynn certainly were.

My Goodreads review includes a photo captioned: Australian racing driver Joan Richmond

Errol was fresh from his starring role in “In The Wake of The Bounty”, so he’s full of sailing language and confidence. He sweeps our Ed off her feet, takes her out on the town partying and dancing. Another arrow to Rowly’s heart, sigh . . .

My Goodreads review includes a photo captioned: DVD cover of In The Wake of The Bounty

Although I’ve followed plenty of motor racing in Australia, my history doesn’t go back nearly as far as the Maroubra Speedway, but apparently it was called the Killer Track because of the fatal crashes. They will be racing for the Lucky Devil Cup II.

1My Goodreads review includes a photo captioned: 927 crash at Maroubra Speedway

But the race is only part of the story. There’s also the fact that his elderly mother is now living at Woodlands with Rowland and his colourful friends, but her dementia is such that she thinks she’s younger than she is and loves to go dancing with Milt, the poet. She makes a nice bright cameo feature in this adventure.

Wil’s seven-year-old son, Ernest, makes several appearances, as he’s now old enough to be sent to boarding school. Wil’s family lives on the family’s grazing property, so it’s usual that children are sent away to school. He’s in tears, at first, but Rowly lives close enough to collect him on weekends for outings and to take him to pick up his parents from the train.

“Ernest caught sight of his mother through the windows and waved and shouted excitedly, ‘Mater! Mater!’

‘Mater?’ Rowland looked at his nephew quizzically.

‘It’s Latin for mother, Uncle Rowly.’

‘Yes, of course.’

‘I’m studying Latin.’


Of course, there’s a murder and of course one of the foursome will be accused, and of course there are shots fired and some rather scary attacks. It wouldn’t be a Rowland Sinclair mystery without them.

I do enjoy this series, and I love that I can trust Gentill’s research and history. Each chapter is introduced with a clipping from a newspaper of that period that has some bearing on the plot. Such fun!
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Sulari Gentill, Australian mystery writer, has Rowland Sinclair engage in automobile racing in 1934 during the depression.  A journalist is murdered just after interviewing Sinclair and Sinclair's friend who drove the journalist home had a difficult history with him.  Rotten doings at the race track, in the pressroom and with Nazi types.  Rowland has to solve the crime or his friend may be framed for it.  Hold your hat for the ride.
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Give The Devil His Due is the seventh book in the Rowland Sinclair series by award-winning Australian author, Sulari Gentill. Despite its unpopularity with returned diggers, gentleman artist Rowland Sinclair has been convinced to enter his beloved yellow 1927 Mercedes S Class into a charity event at the notorious Maroubra Speedway. His team leader has plenty of experience; his other team member, an actor named Errol Flynn, is less experienced; but with practice, they stand a fair chance, even on what has been dubbed the killer track.

It seems the bookmakers would prefer if Rowly and his team, current favourites, did not win, and they seem to want to convince Rowly to throw the race. Then Smith’s Weekly journalist, Crispin White, having just interviewed Rowland about his German car, is brutally murdered in a Kings Cross waxworks: has this cursed track taken its next victim? 

Worse still, Rowly’s poetic friend, Milton Isaacs comes under suspicion for the murder, and the investigating police detective seems unwilling to make any further enquiries. Meanwhile, Rowly’s artist friend, Clyde Watson-Jones is heartbroken when his girlfriend agrees to a marriage arranged by her family. Rowly is disturbed by New Guard leader, Eric Campbell’s run for parliament and is still trying to make people understand what is happening in Germany, the horrors he saw. 

He hopes an exhibition of paintings inspired by the memories that plague him will have an effect, but wonders if he should wait until these other matters are resolved. But Edna tells him: “The world doesn’t stop so we can deal with one thing at a time. Life’s more an all-in brawl than one of your very proper boxing matches… A single identifiable opponent is an unrealistic luxury. As is an umpire to make sure everything’s sporting, that you all shake hands, adjust your ties, and have a cup of tea afterwards.”

In this instalment, Gentill again serves up plenty of fascinating historical detail, giving a few famous (and infamous) figures and products cameos (and some, more significant roles). There are twists and red herrings aplenty, leading to several exciting climaxes. Rowly twice has gainful employment recommended to him, encounters occultists, makes a drunken proposal, is beaten up, spends a night in the rough, and is shot at.

There are kittens, premonitory stories, three abductions for good or evil intent, a missing tiepin, and a missing notebook. Fans of the series will delight in a larger role for Rowly’s (quite spirited) mother, Elisabeth, now residing at Woodlands and relishing the company of his artistic friends.

Press clippings of the time that preface the chapters cleverly serve the purpose of providing information related to the text that follows, as well as depicting social attitudes of the era. As always, Gentill effortlessly evokes the era. Once again, a brilliant dose of Australian historical crime fiction. Readers by now hooked will appreciate knowing they can look forward to a further three (at least) instalments of this award-winning series, beginning with A Dangerous Language.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press.
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I received this ARC via Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press, in return for an honest review. While not the first book in this series, it is easily read as a stand-alone.  This is the first I’ve read in this series and I look forward to more of them.  A really good story, set in Sydney, Australia, in the mid-1930s.  The author does an excellent job of weaving the mystery with historical facts and figures.  I looked up many of the names, while reading, to learn more about them and that period in Australian history!  Think of this as the Australian cousin to Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Whimsey series.  Rowland ‘Rowly’ Sinclair is a member of the upper strata of Sydney society.  His older brother, Wilfred, inherited the overall estate after the death of their oldest brother, Aubrey, in WWI.  
Rowly shares his own large home with several interesting characters: Milton – a communist who quotes famous authors; Clyde – a landscape painter; Edna – the woman whom Rowly loves unrequitedly and Elizabeth – Rowly’s mother, suffering from early/mid-stage dementia.  
It's made clear that in previous books, Rowly and his friends went to Germany and were present, but not participating, at Nazi events like the book burnings that began in 1933, leaving physical and emotional scars on them all.  Back in Sydney, Rowly’s asked to drive his yellow Mercedes in a charity car race at the famous Maroubra Speedway as a member of a team with a female captain and a co-driver in the yet undiscovered Errol Flynn.  Deaths begin with a sleazy reporter and then a driver of a different team.  When Milt is suspected in the first death and Rowly is blamed for the second one, they are all drawn into solving the mysteries.  There are many more characters (both real and fictional) who come to life on the pages.  Again, I thought this an exceptional book and well worth reading for both the historical and the fictional tales that it tells.  I can’t wait for the next in the series!
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The story of Rowland Sinclair and his family - the closest we could get to aristocracy in Australia in itself is an unusual family and background. The understated riches, lifestyle and manner of Rowland is in itself admirable and a story on its own. Set him against a motley crowd of arty types like Edna who has acquired a reputation which is not fair, Communists and so called hangers on and then set an attempted murder/s in this background and you have a fascinating story.

Set on a race track with a killer reputation, we have people gunning for Rowland Sinclair. In the process others get killed which adds to the mystery. The 1930s political scene in Australia was complicated and amazing and to someone like me who did not have a clue as to what Australia was like then, the story was a revelation.

Loved the writing.
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This is the seventh book in the series, and I think you should have a working knowledge of the characters before approaching the characters at this late a stage. I will begin by saying I really enjoyed the book. Try as I might I couldn't read it as quickly as some others. Although this could be because I have been trying to cram a lot of reading into my free time, but it could also be (and probably is the actual reason) the fact that a lot goes on in the tale. We are being shown a slice of Australia before the Second World War and when a large part of the world still underestimates the power and intent of the Nazis. 

Rowland has had a lot of setbacks both locally and abroad by the time the scene is set for this instalment. He is going to race his beloved Mercedes in a charity race, but there is a lot of hue and cry over Rowland's loyalties and his allegiance to any one 'group'. This last part has to do with the rag-tag group of people who are closer than family to him. Their joys and sorrows are shared equally amongst them, and there are quite a few of the latter here. I continue to love the informative news articles that headline each chapter, giving us insight into how a particular line of narrative might have found its way into the story.

It is historical fiction at its most fascinating. Emotions, love lives are part of the story but not the be-all and end-all of the entire book. The people, their interpersonal dependencies and the conversations are the highlights of it all. No relationship is straightforward, and the nuances of each can be heart-rending as well as bolstering as well as everyday lighter moments. We see how ideals fare when one's heroes are shown to be mere men with the same prejudices that one's sworn enemies might carry.

I would only recommend this series to someone with a decided interest in the various capricious qualities of politics in a country that's only starting to carve its own identity while still belonging to the higher colonial power. I really enjoyed the book, when I turned the last page and one murder case, two personal issues were resolved, for the
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Give the Devil His Due is the seventh in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series, featuring the privileged youngest son of a wealthy Australian family who, much to his elder brother’s consternation, is a Bohemian artist sharing his home with a motley collection of artists. Or at least, his brother would think them motley. In this book, Rowly is preparing for a big charity race for the Red Cross on an infamously dangerous track believed to be cursed. Rowly is a bit too hospitable to a reporter assigned to interview him for pre-race publicity and the reporter, Crispin White, get a bit drunk so Milt, one of Rowly’s friends, drives him home. When the reporter is found dead the next morning, the police zero in on Milt as the prime suspect, not really looking elsewhere.

But there are many more complications than that. Clyde, another housemate, loses the woman he loves to a man chosen by her family who misunderstand his intentions badly. Someone is trying to kill Rowly, but is it the bookies trying to fix the race, the somewhat madcap and thoroughly macabre young artist and reporter who replaced the murdered reporter on his story, the reporter’s murderer, or one of the fascists whose growing political power in Australia leads Rowly to do all he can to speak up for democracy.

I love the characters in the Rowland Sinclair series and it makes me happy to catch up on them in each new book in the series. Give the Devil His Due benefits from a good plot that strewn with red herrings while remaining fair. One of the things I enjoy about Sulari Gentill’s books is how seamlessly the historical and the fictional are interwoven. This is one of the great strengths.

Sometimes great strenghts also are weaknesses. Gentill begins each chapter with stories from newspaper archives that somehow connect to the chapter. I often find myself skipping them. Some are very apt and I read them and then others are just beside the point or illustrative of that era, such as an article about the benefits of smoking. The ones that fit the story, that include the historical characters and such, those I enjoy. Those that are beside the point, I just shrug and move on. I am not sure every chapter needs something from the archives, especially when they are more than a paragraph or two in length.

Nonetheless, having given myself permission to skip the interstitial excerpts that don’t interest me, I found the book enjoyable and a very good mystery.

I received an e-gallely of Give the Devil His Due from the publisher through NetGalley

Give the Devil His Due at Poisoned Pen Press
Sulari Gentill author site
Reviews of others in the series
A Decline in Prophets 
Paving the New Road
A Murder Unmentioned
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When I read the description of this book on Netgalley, I was intrigued and requested it.  This is a new author to me. This book was originally published in 2015.  Set in Sydney Australia, 1931.

Rowly, Rowland Sinclair, is a wealthy gentleman artist who lives in a Woollahra mansion with his greyhound Lenin and an assortment of bohemian friends including Edna Higgins, a sculptor for whom he has feelings, and Clyde Watson Jones, a landscape painter, who is known to be handy with his fists.  He has been invited to race his yellow Mercedes in a charity race at Maroubra Speedway. Maroubra Speedway known as a killer track.

I found this story engaging.  It was a nice historical mystery.  I look forward to reading the previous installments.

I was given and advanced reader’s copy by Netgalley and am not required to leave a positive review.
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I'm huge fan of this series and I love the well balanced mix of fiction and historical facts.
This instalment was excellent and it kept me hooked till the last page.
It was great to meet again Rowland and his friends and read about the development in their life, it's like to meet a group of old friends. The cast of characters is as likeable and well thought as usual.
The well crafted plot and the solid mystery that kept me guessing were gripping and entertaining.
It was an excellent read, strongly recommended.
Many thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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1934, Sydney. Artist and wealthy gentleman, Rowland Sinclair has agreed to enter a motor car race. A race on a track, the Maroubra Speedway, whch is famous for the number of people killed while racing.
Soon the bodies appear, meanwhile Rowland wants to expose to the country the evils of the Hitler movement. Trouble also comes the way of Rowland and his friends from other sources.
An enjoyable slow-paced mystery, a well-written story with its cast of well-drawn characters.
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Rowland Hits The Track.....
The seventh book in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series. When bodies begin to pile up on and off the race track Rowland finds himself knee deep in murder and mayhem. Stylishly written, gentle murder mystery, 1930's set, with an engrossing plot, a likeable protagonist and a colourful supporting cast. Another winner.
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Car races, murder, and an art exhibition! Another fabulous Rowland Sinclair read!

Sydney, Australia 1934. Rowland Sinclair, the accidental gentleman sleuth is continuing to be the bane of his powerful brother Wilfrid's life, and hopelessly in love with his sometime life model and free spirited sculptress Edna Higgins. I'm hopelessly enamored with Rowly and the gang!
Rowly's returned to the family's Sydney home Woodlands House in the salubrious suburb of Woollahra, with his artistic bohemian friends, poet Milton (Elias Isaacs), a card carrying communist, who quotes others works as though they were his own, landscape painter Clyde Watson Jones, and the beautiful inside and out, Ed (Edna). Rowly's mother Elizabeth, suffering from dementia, is in residence and still calls him by his deceased brother's name, Aubrey. She's a wonderful addition to the menagerie.
Rowley is to race his yellow Mercedes roadster in a charity event for the Australian Red Cross at the jinxed Maroubra speedway. 
But in the meantime a reporter, Crispin White, is murdered in the Magdalene’s House of the Macabre, a horror waxworks, after having dinner at Woodlands. Milton comes under suspicion and Rowley and gang must do all they can to prove his innocence.
Throw into the mix Clyde's ex fiancé's Italian family who decide to take action against him and things become very lively.
The fascists are still beguiling the Australian public into seeing them as concerned citizens with the best interests of the country at heart. The conservatives are still trying to handle them.
Psychologically effected, but recovering from his dreadful time in Berlin, Rowley decides to launch an exhibition of his paintings showing the Nazi's up for who they really are.
Rowley is a character I just keep falling in love with. Charming, boyish, principled, avant garde, a talented artist, laconic, sincere and amusing. His handling of his mother is loving and delightful.
Really Gentill's novels are a fabulous trip through Australian political and social history in the 1930's, exposing not just the prejudices of the time, the effects of the Depression, but the sleazy underbelly of the criminal world. We're also treated to the artistic historical developments of the times, and are given an inkling of thoughts and ideas of this island community during this era.
The luminaries we continue to meet are priceless. Kenneth Slessor, a poet whose work I've always admired, Norman Lindsay, Errol Flynn, and Arthur Stace, the man who for thirty years wrote Eternity in fine copperplate all over Sydney.
I must say how pleased I am to have had an ARC of this book from the publishers. Without this I wouldn't have come across Gentill's fabulous Sinclair series. I have enthusiastically taken to reading my way through the series prior to this publication and am enjoying every moment.

A Poisoned Pen Press ARC via NetGalley
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This is the second book I've read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There's also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.
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I enjoyed the characters and setting in this book - it's a little reminiscent of the Phryne Fisher series, but with more primary characters, more plot lines, and more politics.  For that reason, it moves a little slower.   I jumped into the series in the middle, I wasn't aware this was book seven in a series.  I didn't feel lost, I just felt like the characters had a complicated history I'd kind of missed out on.  This is obviously a tight band of loyal friends.  I did like it enough to put the entire series on my to-read list.  I'd like to start at the beginning and take time to get to know the characters. 
The historical setting is obviously researched in-depth, especially the political climate with the Communists and the Blackshirts.  There were plenty of little details to set the time period, and I felt fully immersed in the story.  
Although there wasn't really any development of Rowland and Edna's relationship in this book, I could tell there's history, and the fire is still smoldering.  I want to see where it goes.  
I think the story went so much slower than expected because all of the book blurbs talk about Rowland.  From the description I was expecting a story primarily about Rowland with some side characters.  But the story is really about Rowland, and Edna, and Milton, and Clyde, and side characters in several of Rowland's family members.  
There are really about three plots going on in this story, at equal levels, then some smaller side-plots.  
Lovers of historical fiction, especially of more than just a cozy mystery, will enjoy this series.  Political history buffs should find much to appreciate.  Seems like a great series - I will definitely be checking out the rest of it.
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Rowly is back!  Set in Australia in the 1930s, this series features an entertaining cast of characters centered around Rowly, a wealthy but socially conscious man who keeps finding himself in the middle of murder mysteries (and in some of the earlier books, Nazis and blackshirts in Europe).  Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier ones- this is fine as a standalone, although I concede that you won't have the benefit of seeing the characters grow and change (his brother Wil is a prime example of this).  In this outing Rowly is about to participate in a charity race when a journalist who interviewed him is murdered. That sets off a chain of events that wraps in his artistic friends (many of whom live with him because he's rich and they're not).  There's a healthy dose of period politics (not small stuff but the bigger issues) as well as underlying unease about the rise of fascism.  Rowly and Edna, a sculptor, are circling one another romantically, his mother is struggling with dementia, and his relationship with his brother is improving.  Gentill does give you a trail of bread crumbs to the murderer but the best parts of this involve the interplay between Rowly and others.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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I love visiting 1930s Sydney with writer Sulari Gentill through her Rowland Sinclair series. Her research is impeccable, with fascinating news clippings heading each chapter and real characters of the day populating the novel.

In this seventh novel of the series, Rowly has been invited to race his splendid yellow Mercedes in a charity race at Maroubra Speedway - known as the killer track for the number of lives lost there. His team includes their captain Joan Richmond, Australia's first professional racing car driver and another amateur driver, Errol Flynn, an up and coming actor. While Rowly prepares himself and his car for the race, there's a lot more going on in this novel with the murder of a journalist, illegal bookmaking, an angry Italian family and Rowly's further attempts to shake the country out of its complacency by staging an exhibition based on the rise of Nazism and anti-semitism that he experienced first hand in Germany.

This was another hugely engaging episode with a difficult murder to solve attempts to end Rowly's life. As well as the mystery and historical elements of this book I really enjoy seeing the continuing growth of Rowly's relationships with his friends and family. His more conservative older brother Wil is coming to appreciate Rowly's choice of friends and their mother, slowly succumbing to dementia, seems very happy to now be living with Rowly and his bohemian household. Sculptress Ed may also finally have started to realise how she feels about Rowly (I must say he's very patient!). Can't wait to read the next book in this series!
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Sri Lankan-born Sulari Gentill offers a fresh spin on the classic gentleman detectives of the 1930s ‘Golden Age’ with her riveting mystery series starring artist and accidental sleuth Rowland Sinclair. First sighted in A Few Right Thinking Men, Sinclair is the black sheep of his wealthy family, a young man who attracts scandal and has returned to Sydney from Europe during turbulent times. 

In this seventh novel in the engaging series, Sinclair prepares an art exhibit to reveal the growing horrors he saw on a visit to Germany. He also decides to race his yellow Mercedes for charity on the deadly Maroubra Speedway, only for his pal Milt to become a suspect in the murder of a reporter. Another man dies on the track, dangerous figures try to intimidate Sinclair, and the case entwines with a macabre waxworks, rumours of witchcraft, politics, art, and backstreet doctors. 

A clever and engaging mystery full of fascinating characters that nicely balances darkness and light. This is storytelling with vitality and gusto in a very fine series set during turbulent times.
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These books are always my highlights. Clever, well researched, dealing with topics that I know nothing of as a non-Australian and even when they are set abroad I find out so much about the period they are set in. One of my favourite mystery series.
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press for an advance copy of Give the Devil his Due, the seventh novel to feature artist Rowland Sinclair, set in 1930s Sydney.

Rowlie is taking part in a charity motor race at the Maroubra racetrack along with teammates Errol Flynn and Joan Richmond. They are the subject of much press interest so Rowlie is horrified when a journalist, Crispin White is murdered shortly after interviewing him and his friend Milton Isaacs becomes the prime suspect.

I thoroughly enjoyed Give the Devil his Due which is an amusing romp through Sydney with a more serious undertone and a good mystery to boot. I have read most of the novels in the series so this is another welcome addition. Rowlie, his bohemian lifestyle and unconventional friends, Milton Isaacs, Clyde Watson-Jones and Edna Higgins, have become good friends over the series so a newcomer may find it all a little baffling at first but will soon settle in. Rowlie is extremely rich so he houses his friends, all impoverished artists of one kind or another, in his mansion. They are extremely close and fairly left wing which enrages Rowlie’s more conservative brother, Wilfred. This closeness and their political views are what frequently leads them into trouble and adventure. I really enjoy their relationship and the often humorous dialogue between them as it brings a lightness and warmth to what could otherwise be quite a dark novel. Being left wing (Milton and Clyde are communists) in the thirties was quite dangerous with fascism on the rise and anti communism being standard in politics. Ms Gentill doesn’t shy away from either the implications of this or its repercussions. It’s fascinating reading.

The plot is equally well done with Rowlie and his friends trying to find White’s murderer to clear Milton. Along the way they have multiple adventures and uncover quite a few other crimes. It’s high octane as they careen from one crisis to another. The only downside to the novel is the contemporaneous press excerpts at the start of each chapter. They are interesting and always refer to events in that chapter but they tend to interrupt the flow of the novel.

Give the Devil his Due is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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Australia, action-adventure, historical-fiction, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research 

Rowland is really in the soup again! He's part of a team of automobile drivers in a race at a very dangerous raceway, gets into trouble trying to help a lovelorn friend, hated by Blackshirt fascists AND Brownshirt Nazis, harassed by bookies, aided by one police detective and hounded by another, and is planning a gallery opening featuring paintings some find subversive. On the good side, his mother is staying at the estate with him and having a grand time while enjoying her advancing confusion, and his odd looking rescued greyhound has adopted a family of kittens! All of the usual characters are back and more interesting than ever. More action, adventure, sly humor, tricky situations, and the gorgeous yellow 1927 Mercedes S Class in 1934 Sydney! Oh, yes, and the pre Hollywood Errol Flynn! Loved it! 
I requested and received a free ebook copy from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
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