A wealthy, bohemian Australian artist is forced to become an amateur sleuth.
Rowland Sinclair and three of his close friends are on their way home from a protracted trip to Europe just as Hitler is coming to power. The companions at their table on the RMS Aquitania include Annie Besant, World President of the Theosophical movement; Jiddu Krishnamurti, who’s just resigned as the movement’s messiah; and Englishman Orville Urquhart, who’s perhaps a bit too attentive to Rowly’s friend and beautiful sculptress and model Edna Higgins. Left-leaning poet Milton Isaacs and artist Clyde Watson Jones get along well with their outlandish new acquaintances. Not so militant Bishop Hanrahan, who refuses to dine anywhere near them, and his minders, Father Murphy and Father Bryan, who are traveling with the bishop and his beautiful but apparently shy niece, Isobel. When Urquhart presses unwanted advances upon Edna, Rowly breaks his nose. So the discovery of Urquhart’s body in a lifeboat, stabbed with Rowly’s broken walking stick, makes him the obvious suspect even though the captain believes him innocent. After an interesting visit in New York, where a wealthy artist friend of Rowly’s puts them up in the Warwick and Edna dates up-and-coming actor Archibald Leach, they reboard the Aquitania for the trip to Australia. When Isobel makes determined overtures toward Rowly, his artist’s eye notes that she’s pregnant. Things look bleak for Rowly when Isobel’s pushed overboard in Sydney’s harbor, but a friend he made on the police force during his first adventure (A Few Right Thinking Men, 2016) allows him to go home, where his stuffy older brother tries to make him into a proper gentleman. Further complications ensue before Rowly can uncover a determined murderer.
A delightful period piece.