Saturday, 9 February 2019

All the Tears in China by Sulari Gentill

The anticipation I feel as I wait for the next Rowland Sinclair mystery is hard to describe. I love spending time with Rowland Sinclair and his three friends almost as much as I love spending time with my real life friends! It's a real treat to be a part of the humour, loyalty and kindness that they constantly display towards each other. 

All the Tears in China picks up where we left off in book 8. Only a few days have gone by and Rowly is still paying for his involvement with Egon Kisch. To get him out of harm's way and to help the family fortune, brother Wilfred decides to send Rowland (and his friends) to Shanghai to broker a wool deal with the Japanese.

Naturally, from the moment they arrive in 1935 Shanghai, the level of danger and intrigue that Rowly seems to always attract only increases.

I love the blend of fact and fiction. Sulari Gentill has a lovely knack of allowing real life figures to rub along with our fictional favourites naturally. She also brings to life the bizarre, curious and precarious world of pre-WWII China.

Gentill has now brought me to the point (twice in recent times) where I believed that Rowly really was in danger of losing his life and that she had had enough of writing these mysteries and was ready to move onto another venture. Nothing about the energy or the writing suggests that Gentill is over the series, but the lead up to the almost-death of Rowly was so believable and convincing both times, that I really couldn't see how she was going to get him out of it safely and plausibly. She did both times!

What I loved about this book: the witty dialogue, the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (which my own grandparents attended on their honeymoon in 1932).
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: all that stuff about the New Guard, fascism in Australia and Eric Campbell.

What I loved about this book: the art deco cover, a Cary Grant cameo, the Bohemian lifestyle & a cruise to New York.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Norman Lindsay's Blue Mountains soirée's

What I loved about this book: the visit to the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, more Norman Lindsay & a run-in with Stella Miles Franklin
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: meeting Rowly's half brother for the first time.

What I loved about this book: meeting a young, naive Eva Braun as well as Nancy Wake and Unity Mitford. Flying lessons with Kingsford-Smith.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: who is Egon Kisch? The horror of Rowly's kidnapping and torture by the SA (Ernst Rӧhm).

What I (loved) about this book: how history has taught us nothing - how Brexit, isolationist policies and right wing thinking is once again dominating our politics.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Fascism in London 1933 & eugenics.

What I loved about this book: the Sinclair family backstory - domestic violence and murder.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Bob Menzies

What I loved about this book: an appearance by Errol Flynn and the seedier side of 1933 Sydney. The development of more complex, nuanced relationships between our four friends as well as Rowly's extended family.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Maroubra speedway

Prequel - The Prodigal Son (e-book only - download your copy here.)

What I loved about this book: the very first meeting of Rowly, Edna, Clyde and Milton.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Gentill can draw too - her illustrations graced the pages of this e-book novella.

What I loved about this book: 1935 Canberra & Melbourne and the increasing frisson between Rowly and Edna.
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Gentill plans to continue the series until the end of WWII. I don't mind the new covers, but I loved the previous art deco covers more - they were more stylish and Bohemian to my mind.

What I loved about this book: 1935 Shanghai, Sir Victor Sassoon and the colourful cover (although I would have liked to see the art deco cover for this too!)
What I learnt or want to remember about this book: Russian revolution refugees in Shanghai & the horrific conditions in Ware Road Gaol.


  1. Why have I never heard of this series before? It sounds perfect for me, definitely adding to wishlist.

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do :-)

  2. You are a devoted Sulari Gentill fan!
    Are there any more authors you read so diligently?
    I tried to remember which writer
    ...seduced me to read 9 or more of their books?
    If they did, they are pretty good.
    Charles Dickens (9) and Emile Zola!(21)

    1. I also enjoy the Jacqueline Winspear cosy crime books, set in the same era, but in London. However, I've found them to be hit or miss in recent times. Gentill has managed to maintain a high standard of entertainment and authenticity with each book so far.
      When I get into a series, I do like to finish - Anne of Green Gables (6), Trixie Belden (39), Dune by Frank Herbert (6) and more recently the Master & Commander series by Patrick O'Brian (21).

    2. Well done...sticking to several series of books!
      I should look at M&C by Patrick O' Brian
      ...and am a bit scared of Frank Herbert's Dune.
      That would be a book definitely OUT of my comfort zone!

    3. I read the series in my early 20's when I found the first 3 books in a secondhand market. I remember that the final couple of books started to lose my interest, but I'm curious to see if the first one, in particular, holds up in with a reread.

      M&C was a tremendous series, but the books did vary in quality. Most were great reads, a few were outstanding but a couple were duds. The ones that focused on Jack and Stephen's friendship were the most rewarding.

    4. Thanks for the feedback!


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