Winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction for 2012
Travel back in time to 1932 and book a first-class suite on the passenger liner RMS Aquitania, but take care, for among your fellow passengers is a ruthless killer....
Direct threats from Australia's warring Right and the Left having quieted, wealthy Rowland Sinclair and his group of bohemian friends are their way home to Sydney via New York after a lengthy stay in Europe. The wealthy Sinclair scion has treated his artist friends to first-class accommodations on the Cunard ship, the luxury liner of the day. Also on board are some members of the Theosophical Society, one of those spiritualism movements that had a heyday in the early twentieth century, as well as an aggressively conservative Irish Catholic Bishop and his cohorts. Their clash ups the tensions in first class and presents the liner's captain with a tricky situation when bodies start to drop.
It is Sinclair's bad luck that he becomes a suspect in the first death, that of the Bishop's beautiful young niece. But before the ship docks, he is cleared and the investigation, and further crimes, are taken ashore to the Australian capital and into some of its grand country houses.
Weaving historical fact, events, and people with fiction, Sulari Gentill has created a delightful and spirited crime story, the second in the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, set against the public unraveling of the Theosophist Society. There's an Evelyn-Waugh-meets-Agatha-Christie feel about this series and an extra treat in the New York scenes of A Decline of Prophets where one of Rowly's boho friends, in fact the sculptress whom he loves, is romanced by the not well-known English actor Archie Leach.