Give the Devil His Due is the seventh in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series, featuring the privileged youngest son of a wealthy Australian family who, much to his elder brother’s consternation, is a Bohemian artist sharing his home with a motley collection of artists. Or at least, his brother would think them motley. In this book, Rowly is preparing for a big charity race for the Red Cross on an infamously dangerous track believed to be cursed. Rowly is a bit too hospitable to a reporter assigned to interview him for pre-race publicity and the reporter, Crispin White, get a bit drunk so Milt, one of Rowly’s friends, drives him home. When the reporter is found dead the next morning, the police zero in on Milt as the prime suspect, not really looking elsewhere.
But there are many more complications than that. Clyde, another housemate, loses the woman he loves to a man chosen by her family who misunderstand his intentions badly. Someone is trying to kill Rowly, but is it the bookies trying to fix the race, the somewhat madcap and thoroughly macabre young artist and reporter who replaced the murdered reporter on his story, the reporter’s murderer, or one of the fascists whose growing political power in Australia leads Rowly to do all he can to speak up for democracy.
I love the characters in the Rowland Sinclair series and it makes me happy to catch up on them in each new book in the series. Give the Devil His Due benefits from a good plot that strewn with red herrings while remaining fair. One of the things I enjoy about Sulari Gentill’s books is how seamlessly the historical and the fictional are interwoven. This is one of the great strengths.
Sometimes great strenghts also are weaknesses. Gentill begins each chapter with stories from newspaper archives that somehow connect to the chapter. I often find myself skipping them. Some are very apt and I read them and then others are just beside the point or illustrative of that era, such as an article about the benefits of smoking. The ones that fit the story, that include the historical characters and such, those I enjoy. Those that are beside the point, I just shrug and move on. I am not sure every chapter needs something from the archives, especially when they are more than a paragraph or two in length.
Nonetheless, having given myself permission to skip the interstitial excerpts that don’t interest me, I found the book enjoyable and a very good mystery.
I received an e-gallely of Give the Devil His Due from the publisher through NetGalley