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Miles Off Course by Sulari Gentill
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Miles Off Course

by Sulari Gentill

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The novel was sent to me by the publisher Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. Thank you

Someone is trying to kill Rowland Sinclair or, at least, kidnap him. Whether he is being targeted for personal reasons or merely because he happens to be very wealthy is yet to be determined. The consensus among his friends and family is that he should get out of town until the miscreants are discovered and caught. And a very good reason to do just that presents itself.

The Sinclair family has a significant cattle business Something suspicious is going on because the overseer, a personal friend of the family, has disappeared without a word to the Sinclairs. The explanation from the employees and the police is that Harry Simpson, an Aboriginal man, just went walkabout and would return in his own good time. Rowley and his older brother Wilfred aren’t buying it. They know Harry wouldn’t just leave his position without giving some kind of notice. Wilfred suggests that Rowly use his detecting skill to find out what’s going on. He can solve a mystery and put himself out of harm’s way at the same time.

So Rowley and his buddies Edna, Milton, and Clyde saddle up and head for the mountains, an area much like the American Wild West. They run into treasure hunters and cattle rustlers, participate in a rodeo, and solve the mystery of Harry’s disappearance. But someone is on their trail and still trying to harm Rowly.

Back in the city, the plot shifts to shady dealings on the political scene. It’s 1933 and the tension between conservatives and liberals is at a boiling point. As in the rest of the world, the communists are demanding more rights for the working class and the wealthy businessmen are resisting. Could the violence against influential men of business be a communist plot? Or could it be a ploy to discredit the agitators? Rowly finds himself in the thick of the problem and must find the answer before he and those he cares for are harmed.

This seems to be two novellas stuck together to produce one novel. The first part about the disappearance of Harry is pure adventure and the part I really enjoyed. The later political aspect slowed down the novel for me and I had to push through to the end. Still, catching up with Rowly and company is always a good thing and I look forward to the next installment. ( )
  Liz1564 | Apr 17, 2017 |
This is the third book in the Rowland Sinclair series, set in 1930's New South Wales
Rowland and his friends go into the high country to look for a family employee who has gone missing in suspicious circumstances.
In the meantime there are several attempts to kidnap Rowland, as well threats from the hard men he meets out on the Sinclair property.
As usual his older brother Wilfred and his cronies suspect that Rowland and his disreputable friends are possibly traitorous.
Rowland continues to be very naive and puts himself quite foolishly into danger, which is a bit annoying. ( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
Well what a mixed bag this is. Gentill evokes between the wars New South Wales and its gentrified classes with an authentic voice. Two generations ago my own family would have circulated as lesser wealthy in such circles. Her descriptions feel right.
It's a detective story with the usual too-much depending on the main character, Rowland Sinclair, but that is normal for this kind of crime genre. The plot has a bunch of twists and turns that keep you going to the end. And the end has two nice little twists that you might see coming but are nonetheless satisfying. One of them appears right at the end of the endnotes. No looking!
But a couple of things jar. First, each chapter begins with "newspaper reports" that unfortunately tend to reveal the plot development of the subsequent chapter. "Leave it to the reader," I wanted to say, and about half way through the book I tried to avoid them. Not easy when the headline is in 36 point bold.
Also, one of the characters has a habit of quoting past masters to which Rowland provides the attribution. Since most of the quotes are familiar, this seems disrespectful to the reader and may have been improved if occasionally Rowland ignored his friend's pretentiousness or even got one wrong occasionally.
The plot itself works its way to neat conclusions with a little deux machina (people die or suicide) although much of the villain's background motivation remains murky.
Three stars. ( )
  PhilipJHunt | Feb 17, 2013 |
MILES OFF COURSE, set in New South Wales in 1933, follows a similar pattern to the earlier books in this series. Rowly is asked by his older brother Wilf to go to the high country, where Sinclairs have cattle runs, to investigate the disappearance of an aboriginal head man Harry Simpson.

Newspaper extracts of the time keep up a running commentary about contemporary events and politics. At the same time it seems that someone may be targetting Rowly himself amid a wave of suspected abductions in Sydney.

The novel is an interesting exploration not only of New South Wales politics but also of current attitudes to women and aborigines. The landed gentry like Rowly's brother Wilf are still very apprehensive about the rise of Communism and overseas Hitler is gaining strength in Germany. Wilf himself moves in social circles who focus on a way of life that has been lost.

Amid this historical detail Sulari Gentill weaves a mystery and gives us more of the background of the Sinclair family.

Most enjoyable reading. The setting feels authentic and the mystery is engaging. ( )
  smik | Nov 13, 2012 |
Best of the series so far, as our hero escapes into the Snowy Mountains, peopled with some very famous Australians indeed, for a (very) short respite from the political extremism and corruption that was apparently rife in interwar Australia. ( )
  literarychick2 | Mar 22, 2012 |
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Book description
A Rowland Sinclair Mystery

Sulari Gentill - Winner of Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012

In early 1933, Rowland Sinclair and his companions are ensconced in the superlative luxury of The Hydro Majestic - Medlow Bath, where trouble seems distant indeed.

And then Harry Simpson vanishes.

Croquet and pre-dinner cocktails are abandoned for the High Country where Rowland hunts for Simpson with a determination that is as mysterious as the disappearance itself. Stockmen, gangsters and a belligerent writer all gather to the fray, as the investigation becomes embroiled with a much darker conspiracy.

As all hell breaks loose, will Rowland be able to save Harry from his captors? And will he be strong enough to save himself and the rest of his companions?
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In early 1933, Rowland Sinclair and his companions are ensconced in the superlative luxury of the Hydro Majestic, Medlow Bath, where trouble seems distant indeed. When Harry Simpson vanishes, croquet and pre-dinner cocktails are abandoned for the High Country where Rowland hunts for Simpson with a determination that is as mysterious as the disappearance itself.… (more)

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