Gentlemen Formerly Dressed by Sulari Gentill

It’s 1933 and the well-bred but occasionally low-brow Rowland Sinclair has just escaped torture in Germany, fled Paris, and is waiting in England for passage home to Australia. However, he and his fabulously bohemian group of live-in friends cannot leave until Sinclair has informed someone in power of what is happening under the Nazi banner. His very first meeting ends with the discovery of a body: blood-soaked, rent with a sword, dressed in a frilly nightie, and a peer of the realm. In a society so completely caught up in manners, no one much wants to investigate such an improper way of getting killed, but Sinclair and his band of merry artists wish to see justice done.

Sulari Gentill’s England is polished, yet is also imbued with a sense of fun, and Gentlemen Formerly Dressed combines cameos from those traipsing across Europe at the time (Rowly bumps into H.G. Wells at a mind-numbingly boring conference, then barely minutes later gets into a brawl with fascists in the public gallery); an enormously enjoyable amount of fainting from shock; snippets of related news items and etiquette from the time; lots of deliciously scandalous moments where people splutter ‘I say!’ with much indignity; and Sinclair rarely being shocked by said scandals when others are, casually stating, ‘I was at Oxford.’

Alongside all this, there is genuine emotion, brutal politics and an incident of fascists being beaten up by mannequin limbs. It’s just about all you could want in a book.

Fiona Hardy blogs about Crime Fiction at and puts together the Dead Write column for the Readings Monthly newsletter.

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Gentlemen Formerly Dressed

Gentlemen Formerly Dressed

Sulari Gentill

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