A Decline in Prophets by Sulari Gentill

rowly-2Book Title: A Decline in Prophets (Rowland Sinclair, #2)

Author: Sulari Gentill

Publisher: Pantera Press

Genre: Crime, Historical Fiction

Release Date: July 1st, 2011

Book synopsis: In 1932, the R.M.S. Aquitania embodies all that is gracious and refined, in a world gripped by crisis and doubt.

Returning home on the luxury liner after months abroad, Rowland Sinclair and his companions dine with a suffragette, a Bishop and a retired World Prophet. The Church encounters less orthodox religion in the Aquitania’s chandeliered ballroom, where men of God rub shoulders with mystics in dinner suits.

The elegant atmosphere on board is charged with tension but civility prevails…until people start to die. Then things get a bit awkward.

And Rowland Sinclair finds himself unwittingly in the centre of it all.

~*~

My second adventure on the Aquitania was as charming and mystery filled as the first, when I read it for the New South Wales Writer’s Centre. This was my introduction then to Rowly, Milt, Clyde and Edna, but I still loved reading it again. Following the disastrous events of A Few Right Thinking Men, Rowly is still reliant on a walking stick to support his healing leg while he and his friends travel abroad, on their journey home from a tour of Europe back to Sydney. Yet, as the quiet cruise pushes forth through the waters of the world, bodies begin to drop. First, Orville Urquhart, an Englishman on the voyage towards New York with them, is murdered with the can Rowland’s cane that he now has to discard as evidence. Yet, the case is unwanted by Scotland Yard, and by the NYPD, and is thus left to fester as a great maritime murder mystery.

Following the somewhat unexpected departure of Jiddu Krishnamurti, Hubert Van Hook, a Theosophist with Annie Besant, proclaims Rowland as the next World Prophet of the organisation, something that will follow him home, much to the ire of his brother, Wilfred, half way through the novel. Yet it is the death in Sydney Harbour is Bishop Hanrahan’s niece, Isobel, that starts the unraveling of the case and descends Rowland and his friends into a world of discovery and attack in a Roman Catholic graveyard and church. The events of the final, climatic chapters lead to a conclusion that I never saw coming but that effectively wraps up the novel, leading into the excitement that I hope will be Miles off Course.

           

Having read this for a second time after reading book one, several things made a lot more sense, such as his brother Wilfred’s attitudes towards Rowland and his friends, and what he thought of the apolitical stance his brother took. But also, the little references to book one were clearer, perhaps an excellent reason to start with A Few Right Thinking Men, so that the scope of the series is better understood, and enjoyed. The combination of history and mystery in equal parts is fascinating and extremely well done, and I am eager to read the rest of the books.

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