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cleland confounds me

The professor had the field for himself, over 700 meticulous autopsies, bodies of all shapes and sizes and in all sorts of fatal disrepair. Some just parts.

Cleland examined them all, sniffed in their cavities for a faint remnant of cyanide or some new exotica. Cleland was a man of the deserts and jungles after all, a traveller throughout all our broad land, New Guinea his last target before death intervened. His intention was to locate a cannibal tribe, engage them without being speared then convince their cook to share his recipes. The Korowai tribe of south-eastern Papua  may have been considered, they were still eating human flesh in 2012.

The Somerton Man was a suicide. Cleland was convinced.

Despite the lividity.

Despite the lit cigarette that left no scorch marks.

Despite not knowing what killed him.

Despite no one ringing the police to say they had seen a body at the bottom of the steps before 7:00pm.

Despite no one ringing the police to say they had seen a body at the bottom of the steps after 7:30pm.

Then he found the suicide note.

the tamam shud slip

He said it made no difference.


7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Robert Nowak #

    I can believe 2012, Pete. In 1992 I got a letter from a PNG ‘National’ about the pursuit of a man selling ‘pigmeat’ at the market at Daru. Modern cannibalism in PNG only started after 1900. It was mostly children and women eating, mostly, brains. They got ‘scrapie’ of course, but it wasn’t really noticed until after WW2 dues to long gestation. Not relevant of course, just thought I’d mention it.

    Hi all! Keep up the good work and Bon Appetite!

    If the above is your book cover, Pete, very nice design. Usual tasteful choice of photograph.

    August 20, 2016
  2. Robert Nowak #

    BTW, have you seen Gordon Cramer’s recent post?

    August 20, 2016
    • Gordon has got me hooked again … and the cover pic was Benno’s choice, she wanted noir. I’m pretty stoked that it looks a little like an Eric Ambler.

      August 20, 2016
  3. Robert Nowak #

    Yeah, good choice. Noir, old school, good. Verbs, action. The adjective is the enemy of man. Woman, I cannot speak for. In the 20s and 30s the serious crime writers didn’t muck about. They would work out how many words per day they had to write to make a middle class income.

    Do yourself a favour, Pete. Don’t put a quote from Montesquieu or Wittgenstein at the front like some latter-day-university-dummed-down-wanker-crime-afficionado.

    If you have to have such a thing, I would recommend one from Rocco (out of Bugs Bunny). Like this one, for example:

    “I don’t know how yez done it, but I know yez done it!”

    I should also mention, at some point, that, while I may not always agree with your conclusions, I like the fact that you are capable of just sitting there and thinking. This post a good example. Is your pocket full yet? How’d ya like them commas?

    August 20, 2016
  4. Like this?

    “I found a couple of bodies in a bedroom: the stink and flies were enough to keep me at the door when I opened it. The window had been smashed, broken glass everywhere. Shotgun wounds by the look of it.”

    August 20, 2016
  5. Robert Nowak #

    Yeah, ok. K.I.S.S. is good. Raymond Chandler wrote in a letter that he considered his best ever bit of writing in fillums was to have a woman say, on the phone, ‘Uh-huh’ three times in a row. Gotta go and cook the dinner.

    August 20, 2016
  6. ellen #

    Perhaps Cleland was being ironic, suicide by ASIO.

    August 21, 2016

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