Review - A Dangerous Language, Sulari Gentill

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

If anybody could point me in the direction of a good condition Chrysler Airflow I'd be very grateful. I know there was one in the 1953 Redex Trial and there were a few in Australia at the time, so surely, somewhere, in somebody's shed... frankly I'm lusting... But I digress, and that's the problem with Sulari Gentill's Rowland Sinclair series, of which A DANGEROUS LANGUAGE is book number 8. It's easy to identify with the perfectly packaged little details, as you find yourself immersed in a time and place that's beautifully described, standing out from the pages, making the things that Sinclair and his companions get up to something you feel a part of. Reading this series is part history lesson, part time spent with good friends, part escapade. 

Incorporated into all of these books are elements of fact. A DANGEROUS LANGUAGE continues the tension between Conservatives, Fascists and Communists in Australian Politics. Along the way it interweaves the sad story of the crime that became known as The Pyjama Girl Murder (for a really good outline of that story I can recommend Richard Evan's 2004 book THE PYJAMA GIRL MYSTERY), with that of the bizarre real-life story of Thomas Ley - Australian Politician, convicted murderer in England, into attempts to bring a well-known peace activist and anti-Fascist, Egon Kisch to Australia. Needless to say A DANGEROUS LANGUAGE revolves around a particularly political plot, with murder, mayhem and some hefty doses of romance and romantic shenanigans.

Told, as always, with Gentill's trademark light touch, this is not, however a book that requires the reader to be a political junkie. The history is nicely balanced against the action, and the ongoing development of the close friendship between Rowly and his companions, and the tension between Rowly and his uptight, older brother adds personal touches that don't overwhelm what is, after all, crime fiction at its core. There is a murder in Canberra to be solved. There's a peace activist to get into the country. There's a bunch of thugs to be averted. Along the way all the four companions come under threat, and at points, an under-whelmed older brother's influence is required yet again.

Being book 8 in this wonderful series, A DANGEROUS LANGUAGE is perhaps not the best place for new readers to start. There's so much back-story now to all of the characters, and their idiosyncrasies, that you really need to have started earlier on in the series. To say nothing of understanding all of the history and societal changes that have gone on in these people's lives. 

For welded on fans of this series, A DANGEROUS LANGUAGE will not disappoint. On the other hand, if you're new to the series, then I envy you. Each of the books in the Rowland Sinclair series is about as good as historical Australian Crime Fiction is ever going to get.

Year of Publication

Book 8 in the Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series.

Set against the glamorous backdrop of the 1930s in Australia and overseas, A Dangerous Language is the latest in the much loved, award winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries.

When a Communist agent is murdered on the steps of Parliament House, Rowland Sinclair finds himself drawn into a dangerous world of politics and assassination. 

A disgraced minister, an unidentified corpse and an old flame all bring their own special bedlam. Once again Rowland Sinclair stands against the unthinkable, with an artist, a poet and a brazen sculptress by his side.

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Karen Chisholm
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