I’ve been slow to become a fan of this increasingly popular historical crime series by the young Australian writer. But with book No.7, I have firmly joined the club.
Rowland Sinclair, the “black sheep” of a wealthy NSW family in the 1930s, is living a luxury communal bohemian life with his Alzheimer’s-affected mother, a beautiful sculptress, a Communist poet, a painter and a greyhound named Lenin.
Give the Devil His Due starts with Rowly joining a team for charity race at the Maroubra Speedway, alongside a young Errol Flynn and champion (also real-life) race driver Joan Richmond. Rowly and his friends have returned from Germany to Australia at a politically tense time.
While the world is still giving Hitler the benefit of the doubt, Rowly has had a personal, highly traumatic experience of the storm to come.
As he gets ready for the race, he seems to be in trouble on all fronts – for keeping company with Communists, driving a German car, running foul of bookmakers, painting naked young women and being stalked by reporters looking for some dirt. When someone takes a shot at him, it could be almost anyone.
Rowly and his friends are excellent company on an adventure-packed romp that threads between Sydney’s upper class and its seedy underworld. There are loads of real people and events throughout and they just add to the fun.
Book published in November 2015
Review first published in the Herald Sun’s Weekend magazine