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the reviewer

Bruce writes for a national magazine, has written two books published by Harper Collins and is in the middle of a third. He reads James Ellroy crime novels, likes the telegrammatic prose style. We have that and surfing in common. He’s been waiting for me to finish the Bookmaker from its beginning.

But Bruce has never read a spy novel, hasn’t been immersed in the world of le Carre so a demonstration of the protocols employed by spies was necessary, but in a context both of us understood.

We met today over coffee at Choux Choux in Bangalow, they have a pastry cook trained in Vietnam. Tres bon!

‘Just say,’ sez I, leaning over the table, ‘you and I are here to do a little shady business today.’

Bruce nods.

‘I’ve got a boot full of compressed weed and you’re here to buy it and take it away.’

Bruce looks over his shoulder.

‘But I have to know you’re the right bloke because we never use the same courier twice.’

‘Who’s we?’

I look down at the black bag on his lap.

‘Me and the bloke whose money you’ve brought with you.’

I turn and look out the window.

‘Where is he parked?’

I look back at Bruce. He’s frowning.

‘Just kidding.’

Bruce nods.

A young woman walks past us, she’s tattooed here and there, legs and arms, feet and neck. Calves. She carries a small child and I wonder how old that infant will be before her mother allows it to be marked.

I continue.

‘When I walk in here I’m looking for a bloke with a small black bag. You’ve been told to look for a bloke who pulls a cheroot out of a Peter Stuyvesant pack.’

‘What’s a cheroot?’

‘Thin cigar.’

Bruce nods.

‘I’ll ask you for a light.’

‘That’s the first check – this stuff is worth twenty thousand to me which means that if the second routine works out I give you the car keys and walk away with your little black bag and all it contains.’

I’m wearing a faded pink long-sleeved cotton shirt, Bruce is just wearing a T.

He’s sweating.

I lower my voice.

‘The bloke who owns the money gave you a book to show me, right?’

This confuses Bruce again. I’m still pretending.

‘Just pretend. You show me the book. I reach into my pocket, take out a small square of paper and see if it fits into the hole on page 66.’

The tattooed lady and her infant leave. A female toddler at a corner table is experimenting with the cafe’s acoustics. Why don’t her parents hush her?

‘That’s it.’

Bruce is going to review the Bookmaker soon, I asked him to let me know if he laughed anywhere on his way through.

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16 Comments Post a comment
  1. ellen #

    I think you have created a new genre, Pete. The book is half fiction, half documentary. Here in the states, we are having problems with “fake news”….thanks to our CIA. I think you have solved the problem.

    January 6, 2017
  2. Wicked, ain’t it?

    January 6, 2017
  3. thedude747 #

    Thats pretty much what happened give or take.

    January 8, 2017
  4. thedude747 #

    Hey Pete I see in a recent article the professor now suggesting that SM was a possible black market car dealer. Does that theory sound familiar? Go back over any thread and you will see no-one raised this hypothesis prior to thedude747. worst of all the professor called my theory ‘”dodgy'” on reddit when I first put it to him. Im thinking of calling him to an anonymous meeting and giving him a stale pasty or cigarette, your thoughts?

    January 9, 2017
    • Very familiar, dude, it had so much going for it I didn’t like it at all … this SM mystery has always been a battle of tightly protected theories . Where is the article?

      January 9, 2017
  5. thedude747 #

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/danvergano/who-is-the-somerton-man?utm_term=.rmlmAQ4xx#.arD9ryY44

    Last paragraph, the Professor and his mate even mention the stencilling tools …. The dude is agrieved !!!
    Ps surfs up in Bali right now !

    January 9, 2017
  6. Hat off to you thedude! Your “car-related” theory has been established as one of only a few possibly realistic explanations and one that I think is now part of whatever “mainstream” thinking there could be about SM. Since you originally convincingly proposed this possibility, I have assumed it as a potential scenario and have subsequently always remained open to any related information! Who knows? You might just be right! Hang in there…Good to see you back after a bit.

    January 10, 2017
  7. Um Pete – I have chite to post about HH Hendon but I can’t find your thread on the matter. Did you take it all down or am I blind? Could you repost it for me to add to? Some interesting stuff I think.

    January 10, 2017
    • I took it down I’m afraid, Misca, but I do remember a comment that involved him, gold, Pakis cafe, George Marshall, Gwen Graham, the rubaiyat and known communists.
      Ellen is the best source these days … probably on her way to Canada with the 20th looming in America.

      January 10, 2017
  8. ellen #

    Misca: I am really attracted to the Helmut/ George Marshall account. I think there is a real tie-in. For me, the clue is what the newspapers have said or left out. I suppose they had libel laws back then but it is interesting what the reporters actually reported. There was the big spread about Marshall’s death with the spin about his crazy background which sounded like nonsense, like they were protesting too much, trying to justify the verdict ahead of time. Also, George was Gwen’s friend first but she was living with Helmut when George died. Helmut testified at the inquest but the whole article was about Gwen’s testimony and connections. And they didn’t give Andre’s last name. Who was the mysterious Andre?…..a former boyfriend of Gwen’s who got into trouble a year prior. Why not tell his last name?
    The Marshall’s were a prominent family with connections to the Sassoons and Rothschilds. I have read that Middle Easterners believe in an eye for an eye and if a son is murdered unjustly, it requires that the family avenge that crime. The suicide ruling was too convenient….and then Gwen suiciding thirteen days later was a real red flag.
    The newspaper accounts for Somerton Man also seem like a cat and mouse game with the clues being fed out piecemeal.

    Pete: Do you suppose I could defect to Australia? The weather is warm there and the mysteries are intriguing.

    January 11, 2017
    • I’ll book a suite at the Sheraton Gold Coast for your introductory assessment … would you like a lagoon or ocean view?

      January 11, 2017
  9. thedude747 #

    Thanks for the nod Misca. Although I have no issue with the professor as such I was annoyed that he was quoting pretty closely a number of my comments made here given he did poo poo my hypothesis whist he was still code cracking with the geeks from Adelaide uni
    I do follow this site avidly but because I tend to be fixed in my views I am loath to interrupt the flow of ideas this site explores. Perhaps I need Pete to send me down some of his special home baked cookies to help open my mind to other possibilities but it just keeps going back to Prosper Thomson for me.

    I wonder if the millions of hours invested in researching this case the world over would have been spent differently had the text associated with the mystery of the Somerton man simply read that the Rubiyant contained the number of “a local car dealer ” with a chequered history instead of the number of “a local nurse”.
    Imagine if the time invested in looking Alf Boxall was spent on PT . Alf was a straight arrow and he wouldn’t have agreed to a tv interview with an inquisitive journo if he had anything to hide. PT was wheeling and dealing all over the bush from Broken Hill to Port Lincoln he advertises the Mosley st phone number on an almost constant basis bringing him into contact with countless random wheeler dealers, opportunists and desperadoes. (see anyone who has ever advertised anything in the trading post and ask about the ferals it connects you with) He admits in court that he has dealt in the black market car bizz and with underworld figures in. Melbourne (see Trove Adelaide advertiser articles on P Thomson v D Page) PT just skates under the radar time and again. The man is teflon.

    January 11, 2017
  10. ellen #

    Pete, I’ll take the ocean view (lagoons are too easy to drain). Like the Somerton Man, I believe defection was a motivation. It was coming up on December and he was dressed too warmly. If I were coming from London and it was growing chilly, I’d opt for Australia over Canada or the States. Unfortunately, Roger Hollis was behind door number three.

    Dude, I agree Prosper was involved but he was small time. Helmut, his buddy was the villian, you can take it from George Marshall and Dorothy McNab, Gwen’s mother. They suspected him of sinister undertakings.

    January 11, 2017
  11. Ellen, how was Prosper Helmut’s buddy? Come clean here.

    January 11, 2017
  12. ellen #

    You asked for theories. This is purely theoretical. Let’s say that Prosper and Hellmuth met at Pakies. It was a very popular coffee house. Russians like Nosov were pretending to be interested in chess tournaments. Prosper was married to a beautician. Hellmuth had a girlfriend Gwen who was a beautician. Both were into scams. Prosper had his Prestige Motors. Hellmuth was smuggling via airplanes. Passenger travel on airlines was not as common as it is today and quite expensive, yet Queenie was in an accident in what seems like a private plane.
    When movement of equipment or resources was needed, spies needed henchman to do the job. I remember reading SM had a sample of zinc in his suitcase.

    January 12, 2017

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