Amazon calculates a product’s star ratings using a machine learned model instead of a raw data average. The machine learned model takes into account factors including: the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether the reviews are from verified purchases.
This most enjoyable book has a great atmosphere and provides a good feel of life in Shanghai in the 1930s. Clearly based on much historical research, we find Shanghai was a maelstrom of British, French, Russian, German, Japanese residents and agents, all pursuing their own interests together with Chinese people, some of whom were ordinary and some were gangsters. Real historical figures like the gangster Du Yuesheng, nicknamed "Big-Eared Du" are cleverly integrated into the plot as are extracts from relevant newspaper articles of the period. The plot is non-stop with exciting action, largely concerning the poor hero, Rowland, being threatened, arrested or bashed. There is a gripping ending with a satisfactory resolution of the underlying mystery. Highly recommended for a good read.
Kudos to Sulari Gentill, picking up a new Rowly Sinclair mystery is like linking in with an old friend. The characters, the issues and history lesson are welcome and well researched, so much so you feel that you're there. I'm greedy for the next one. Feed me Sulari, feed me!
Rowland (Rowly) Sinclair’s efforts to assist the Communist Egon Kisch at the end of 1934 and into early 1935 (read ‘A Dangerous Language’) has made him very unpopular with some Australians. As Rowly’s nephew, Ernest, says:
‘Pater said that half of Sydney wants to kill you.’
So, when Rowly’s brother Wilfred asks him to represent him at international wool negotiations in Shanghai, leaving Australia for a while is not unattractive. Especially when his friends Edna Higgins, Milton Isaacs and Clyde Watson Jones are to accompany him. Rowly is under clear instructions from Wilfred:
‘Your purpose is to hold our place in these meetings. Just listen and be pleasant. For God’s sake, don’t sign anything.’
In 1935, Shanghai is a glittering, glamorous place. It’s also a dangerous place, where loyalties and the law can be difficult to navigate. It seems that everyone is welcome in Shanghai: there are impoverished Russian nobles and badly behaved English-speaking expatriates. There are opium dens and sing-song bars. East meets west in Shanghai, but there is a strict hierarchy, and a marked difference between those with means and those without. But all Rowly needs to do is attend meetings and listen. What could possibly go wrong?
A woman is murdered. Her body found in the suite occupied by Rowly and his party. Suspicion falls on Rowly. Naturally, Rowly fights to clear his name. Naturally, his friends try to help. And naturally, because this is Rowland Sinclair, things become complicated, other people with vastly differing interests are involved. There are red herrings to sort, complicated relationships to try to make sense of, and plenty of action. In order to clear his name, Rowly Sinclair needs to find out who killed the woman and why. There are plenty of twists and turns in this story, with a bit of a surprise at the end.
Each chapter of the novel opens with an excerpt from a contemporary newspaper or magazine article. I enjoyed these excerpts which serve to ground the novel in its time period and give an indication of contemporary concerns and attitudes.
This is the ninth novel in Ms Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair series. While I think it possible to read and enjoy the novel as a standalone, I’d recommend reading the series in order. Why? Because Ms Gentill has created such marvellous main characters that one encounter will surely not be enough.
Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Pantera Press for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.