Fiction Review

John Hart, Redemption Road, & Livestream

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Did you miss John Hart’s recent appearance at The Poisoned Pen on his book tour for Redemption Road? You can feel as if you were in the audience if you watch it on Livestream at http://livestream.com/poisonedpen/events/5455741

If you would like to order a signed copy, a large print copy, or a cd audio of the book, we hope you order it through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/1sJtrbY

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Sulari Gentill, In the Hot Seat

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On June 7, Poisoned Pen Press will release A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill.

Few Right Thinking Men

This is the first of eight Rowland Sinclair Mysteries set in 1930s Australia. This first one was originally published in Australia in 2011. And, A Few Right Thinking Men recently received a starred review in Library Journal.

807px-Red_star.svg[1]Gentill, Sulari. A Few Right Thinking Men. Poisoned Pen. Jun. 2016. 368p. ISBN 9781464206351. $26.99;
pap. ISBN 9781464206375. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9780987068569. M

“In 1931 Sydney, Australia, unemployment is high and tension is mounting, especially among working people who feel the upper class are handing them a raw deal. Rowland (“Rowly”) Sinclair was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but has taken up the mantle of gentleman communist. He is, after all, a bohemian artist. His older brother is embarrassed by Rowly, but when their elderly uncle is murdered at home, Rowly sets out to uncover who might have wanted a sweet old man dead. As Uncle Rowly was a silent partner in a speakeasy, gangsters might have had it out for him, but our sleuth soon learns that fascist politicians make bad bedfellows. While the vintage Down Under settings might make this debut, which was short-listed for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Best First Book, comparable to Kerry Fisher’s Melbourne-based Phryne Fisher 1920s mysteries, Gentill works in historical events that add verisimilitude to her story. There are more political machinations going on here than Phryne could ever contemplate. VERDICT Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for bringing another award-winning Australian crime writer to U.S. shores. Her witty hero will delight traditional mystery buffs.”

Sulari Gentill is as fascinating as the setting of her mysteries. She was kind enough to agree to sit in the hot seat for an interview. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Sulari Gentill.

Sulari
Sulari Gentill

Sulari, although The Poisoned Pen has followers worldwide, I’m sure many readers are not familiar with your work because your books have, until now, not been published in the U.S. Would you introduce yourself?

Hello – I’m Sulari Gentill.

I’m Australian though I was born in Sri Lanka.  My family emigrated when I was still a baby, and we embarked on what seemed like a trek around the planet.  I started school and learned to speak English in Zambia, and we arrived in Australia when I was six.  That’s longer ago than I care to admit.  For the most part I grew up in Brisbane, at a time when it was still really an overgrown country town.  I attended my local school, built club houses in the mulberry trees by the Brisbane River and plotted world domination with my friends.

In time, I set off to University to study Astrophysics and somehow came out with a law degree.  I was duly admitted as a barrister and solicitor to the High Court of Australia and embarked on a career in the corporate sector.  Whilst practicing law can be creative, they don’t really like you to just make things up…or admit to it anyway.  Writing seemed liked a better way to indulge my fondness for fabrication.

Nowadays I live on a small truffle farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains with my husband, Michael, and our sons—two wild and fearless boys whose plans for world domination are more advanced than mine ever were!

Why did you turn to crime writing?

To be honest, it was a whim.  I simply decided to write a novel one day… I was a serial hobbyist, you see, and I’d finished the welding course and needed something else to do with the time I wasn’t lawyering or wrangling my boys.  There was no grand plan, no epiphany, just a sense of curiosity as to what the stories in my head would look like on the page.

Once I began writing however, it soon became clear that this was more than a passing fancy.  Writing seemed as natural a breathing and the consequences of stopping as dire.  Most of my other hobbies fell away as I became consumed with storytelling.  I’m still as delighted and excited to write as I was that first day.

Would you introduce us to Rowland Sinclair?

Why, certainly.

Dear readers, allow me to introduce Rowland Sinclair, who hails from one of the wealthiest and most respectable families in 1930s Australia.  An artist and a gentleman, Rowland is the unrepentant black sheep of the Sinclair pastoral dynasty. He blithely flouts the expectations of conservative Sydney, courting scandal and keeping company with entirely the wrong crowd.  Adamantly indifferent to politics, Rowland walks a fine line between his conservative birthright and his more libertine associations.  He is twenty-six years old at this first meeting, and living in the family’s exclusive Sydney mansion into which he has invited a louche band of penniless artists and poets.  He is a loyal friend, a passionate painter, a dry wit, and hopelessly in love with woman who won’t have him.

Tell us about A Few Right Thinking Men, without spoiling the story.

Written into real historical events, A Few Right Thinking Men is set in the tumultuous world of New South Wales in the 1930s.  It was time of extreme politics and social upheaval.  Communism appealed to the unemployed and working classes and the establishment gathered in secret fascist armies.  The story follows Rowland Sinclair, artist and gentleman, who manages to avoid politics almost entirely, until the brutal murder of his beloved uncle involves him in a dangerous infiltration of clandestine militias. In his dogged search for justice, he finds himself embroiled in treason and conspiracy as Australia moves to the brink of revolution.

Why did you pick the 1930s in Australia as the time period for this series?

My husband, Michael, happens to be an English teacher and an historian. I have always used him shamelessly to edit and sanity check my work.  When I first began to write, I would foist upon him manuscript after manuscript steeped in the mythology of the Ancient Greeks, filled with characters like Agamemnon, Menelaus, Odysseus and Achilles.  He would go through the pages, struggling with the pronunciation but dutifully providing me with comment and correction, until one day he broke down and demanded to know why I couldn’t “write something about people with names like Peter and Paul?”

Of course I ignored him…initially at least.  But writing can be quite an isolating obsession.  I spend a great deal of time in my own head, and whilst that’s fine for me, it is hard for those who live with me.  A great part of the challenge in being a writer is to make your imaginary world work with the real world in which you actually live.  And so I made a pragmatic decision to build a bridge towards the poor man who had married a lawyer and then found himself financially and otherwise tied to someone who refused to do much else but write.

I looked for a story to which my husband could relate, which would engage his imagination as much as mine.  Michael’s particular area of expertise is the extreme political movements of the early 1930s in New South Wales, and so, I set the Rowland Sinclair Mysteries in that context.

By doing so, I rather conveniently ensured that Michael would continue editing my novels—he cares far too much about the genuine history of the time to let me play with it unsupervised!  I also procured for myself an invaluable source of information.  It is one thing to read about a time, and another to have the opportunity to discuss it with someone who is an expert in that period of history.  For me, dialogue with an historian affords a richer understanding and fuels the kind of creative excitement that is fundamental to bringing an era to life.  

If you’re working on something now, what can you tell us about it?

I’ve very recently completed and submitted the manuscript for the eighth book in the Rowland Sinclair series… I expect I’ll be working on edits rather soon.

I’ve also just finished my first contemporary crime novel and am knee deep in a couple of speculative novels for young adults. In addition I’ve started writing a trilogy set in the early colonial era—tall ships, convicts, bushrangers, that sort of thing.  I expect one of these works in progress will soon begin to dominate my time and become my obsession, but at the moment, they are all equally full of potential and possibility.

Many of us will never get to Australia. When friends come to visit, what’s your favorite place to take them?

Australia is a very big country.  In that big country I live many hours from any capital city, in a very small rural town.  The distances are such that many of the sights for which Australia is famous (The Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, Uluru etc) are too far away to be included on a sightseeing tour from my home in the Snowy Mountains.  But these mountains are themselves iconic in Australian culture.  It was here that the image of the hard-riding Australian stockman was forged.  It is also here that some of our mightiest rivers begin in peaks of the High Country.  The region is steeped in Indigenous history and post-settlement folklore.  I take my visitors to see kangaroos and brumbies up close, to waterholes in which platypi swim.  I show them limestone caves, scar trees and hot springs.  I take them to bush poetry slams and dances in tiny country town halls.  At night I show them the broadness of our sky and point out the Southern Cross.

Where would you like to go in the world, someplace you’ve never been?

Greece, New York, Paris… there are many places I’ve only been in my books.

What five words or phrases would Rowland Sinclair use to describe you?

To be honest, Rowland would be more likely to describe me with a sketch as opposed to words, but if he were forced, I believe he would say I was:

  • Quite mad,
  • Loyal,
  • Stubborn,
  • Prone to find humour in odd places, and
  • Far too hard on the hero of my books.

Thank you, Sulari, for taking time for the interview.

If you would like to order a copy of the first in the Rowland Sinclair series, A Few Right Thinking Men, you can order it through the web storehttp://bit.ly/1sO1j89

Michael McGarrity – The Last Ranch

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Michael McGarrity was recently at The Poisoned Pen to discuss and sign copies of the final book in his American West trilogy, The Last Ranch.

last Ranch

We have a few pictures from the program.

PP McGarrity & Peters
Michael McGarrity with Barbara Peters, owner of The Poisoned Pen Bookstore
PP McGarrity preparing to read
Michael McGarrity, preparing to read from The Last Ranch

We have signed copies in the Web Store right now if you would like to order a copy. http://bit.ly/1NSd6vr

And, if you would like to start the series, or give it as a Father’s Day gift, we also have the first in McGarrity’s American West trilogy, Hard Country.

Hard Country

The National Parks – Books

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It’s a quiet day of observation here in the U.S., Memorial Day. So, we’ll connect you with a couple books.

In observance of the 100th Anniversary of the National Park System, we have book reviews of two books. You can order them through our web store.

Lunde, Darrin. The Naturalist (Crown $28). This terrific study of Teddy Roosevelt and how his sickly childhood and lifelong passion for the natural world (he was taken when young into the Adirondacks, and his father was instrumental in founding NY’s American Museum of Natural History) inspired him to the wildlife conservation movement, our National Parks (this is the 100th anniversary year), and his epic travels. Written by a member of he Smithsonian who also worked at the NY museum, it traces the rise of museums as a whole, natural history museums in particular, taxidermy, hunting, Roosevelt’s life…. Absolutely fascinating and highly recommended for summer reading and for a Father’s Day Gift.

Naturalist

Graham, Scott. Yellowstone Standoff (Torrey House $14.95). Graham’s intriguing third National Park mystery takes archeologist Chuck Bender; his wife, Janelle Ortega; and his two young stepdaughters, Carmelita and Rosalita, to the Turret Patrol Cabin in the Thorofare region, “the highest and coldest forested part” of Yellowstone. There they join a contentious group of 40 researchers, including meteorologists, geologists, wolf experts, grizzly bear experts, and two drone operators, who are dealing with such phenomena as global warming, an increase in the number of small tremors, and an odd pairing of a wolf and a grizzly. The threatening behavior of the park’s predators is worrisome enough, and then the discovery of a murdered researcher lifts threats to a whole new level. Graham, an avid outdoorsman and amateur archeologist, does a fine job detailing the various and competing demands made on National Parks by the public, scientists, and bureaucrats.

Yellowstone Standoff

Those titles, and others, are available to order. http://store.poisonedpen.com/

yellowstone-national-park-996350_960_720

Gini Koch, via Livestream

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As I said before, The Poisoned Pen is more than a mystery bookstore. Gini Koch, who writes science fiction and adventure, is a regular at The Poisoned Pen. She just appeared here with her 13th Alien novel, Camp Alien. Would you like to see the Livestream of the event? http://livestream.com/poisonedpen/events/5455560

We also carry Camp Alien, and other books by Gini Koch if you would like to order any through the web store. http://bit.ly/1OQ0IXI

Camp Alien

Steve Hamilton at The Poisoned Pen – Recap

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See this terrific poster?

Steve Hamilton poster

We’re sorry you missed the event. Steve Hamilton, author of The Second Life of Nick Mason, The New York Times bestseller, was interviewed by author Boyd Morrison, and joined by Arizona Republic journalist Robert Anglen. But, we do have photos! And, you can watch the entire event on Livestream so you can feel as if you were here. http://livestream.com/poisonedpen/events/5455730

PP Hamilton & Morrison
Steve Hamilton & Boyd Morrison
PP Hamilton interviewed
Left to right – Robert Anglen, Steve Hamilton, Boyd Morrison

PP Hamilton talking

PP Hamilton and crew
Barbara Peters, Robert Anglen, Steve Hamilton, Boyd Morrison

There are signed copies of Steve Hamilton’s The Second Life of Nick Mason available through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/1Z5KVtF

Second Life

And, you can also order a signed copy of The Emperor’s Revenge by Clive Cussler and Boyd Morrison. http://bit.ly/1U0y8oi

Hot Book of the Week (23)

Maureen Corrigan’s Thriller Picks

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Did you hear Maureen Corrigan’s summer thriller picks on NPR’s Fresh Air? She discussed “The Second Life Of Nick Mason,” by Steve Hamilton, “Where It Hurts,” by Reed Farrel Coleman, “After The Fire,” by Lauren Belfer, and “I Let You Go,” by Clare Mackintosh. You can read the transcript of Fresh Air here. http://n.pr/1sS7LuZ

Steve Hamilton was just here, so you can get a signed copy of The Second Life of Nick Masonhttp://bit.ly/1XxbOYR

Hot Book of the Week (22)

The other books are also available through the Web Store. http://store.poisonedpen.com