I’m not a surfer, so I can’t speak for how well it lived up to its name, but Surfers’ Paradise was wonderful nevertheless. Even though there were tall skyscrapers, it never really felt like a city; the ocean breeze and the trees helped keep it open. The beach was never too far out of sight.
This neighborhood was only a short bus ride away from Surfers’ Paradise (maybe fifteen minutes max). It had a much smaller beach town feel to it, with Mom-and-Pop stores and little cafes selling all the beach supplies and caffeine your heart could desire. Of course, the main attraction is Burleigh Heads National Park, which is a quick walk up the hillside into unbelievable views. The trail is mostly paved, though little steep in parts, and it eventually ends up on a quiet beach on the other side of the park.
Less than an hour away from the beaches, Springbrook feels like its another world: 3,000-year-old trees, waterfalls, and incredible wildlife lend the impression that you’ve stepped back in time. Springbrook is technically an extinct volcano, which was responsible for creating the steep canyon. The birds especially were unafraid of people, as you can see in come of the pictures taken at a nearby cafe.
Synopsis: Someone might be killing communists, right as artist/amateur detective Rowland Sinclair finds himself volunteering along with three friends to help deliver journalist Egon Kisch to the Movement Against War and Fascism.
I adored this book. It’s got all the qualities of a perfect madcap mystery, from a loyal quartet of artistic friends, nefarious political operatives, and a good family name that needs to stay out of the muck. Rowland Sinclair wouldn’t feel out of place in the midst of a good Agatha Christie mystery.
I’ll admit that I may be a bit biased, since I’m currently living in Australia, but it was an absolute delight to read a book which takes place in the Australia of the 1930s. There were so many developments (such as the communist/fascist conflicts) that I remained completely ignorant about and that this book did a brilliant job of introducing. Historical fact is masterfully blended with fiction. More than a few historical figures, from Egon Kisch to Stanley Bruce, grace the pages. None of the historical context feels didactic – it all feels startlingly pertinent to the characters’ lives.
Even though I started with the eighth book in the series, I was able to pick right up and understand what was going on. The characters felt fully realized, each with their own little idiosyncrasies and attitudes (poor, long suffering Mary Brown!). The events of prior books were referenced in a way that provided context and more than a little intrigue without merely summarizing the series.
It is the relationships between the four main characters that drives the book. From Milton, the communist and poet (albeit one who spends more time quoting others than writing his own), to painter and handyman Clyde, to the irrepressible Edna, to the wealthy not-a-communist-but-maybe-a-sympathizer painter Rowly all feel honest. You can’t help but root for them.