The latest proposition put up about this mystery was written by Nick Pelling over at Cipher mysteries. He seemed pretty happy with it, says it took him quite some time to put together.
It goes like this:
November 1948: Adelaide. Mr Francis buys a vehicle from Prosper Thomson at the blackmarket price of say, £850.
The car was initially sold to Thomson by a vendor at the control price of say, £400 with the balance to come after Thomson sold it on. One of those split the difference deals.
However the vendor (SM) distrusted Thomson to such a degree he left a marked Rubaiyat in the car to prove that it was once his in case Thomson thought to stiff him out of the balance once the car was sold on.
How did the Rubaiyat remain unfound and untrampled after a period in the footwell of a passenger car?*
(2) Surely it could have been better hidden, given its purpose.
(3) The vendor didn’t know the middleman’s customer, in other words, the Somerton Man didn’t know Francis.
(4) Which means The Somerton Man couldn’t know where Francis’ car was.
(5) So how could he collect?
This is what should have happened at the station.
A businessman walks into a police station and up to the desk, tells the sergeant he has found something in his car that might be of importance in an open case.
He is introduced to the wily Detective Sergeant Lionel Leane who sits him down in an interview room.
All smiles, all round.
Francis hands over the Rubaiyat he found and Leane goes straight to the back page and sees the hole. A good moment. But what of this businessman Leane asks himself, and what of his car? This is a murder case, there are questions, one in particular.
Was the semi-conscious Somerton Man taken to the beach by car, helped out then half-carried down the steps?
How long has this gentleman had his car?
Who did he buy it from?
‘May we have a look inside, sir?’ Leane might have asked.
These are the sorts of questions wily coppers might ask. Particularly the extremely inquisitive ones, like the venerable Feltus. He probably likes the Francis fiction as little as we do.
- *my error, this was not the case