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Tamam Shud: The Somerton Man Mystery (Kerry Greenwood, NewSouth)

This book is part true crime, part memoir, part biography and part fiction, with touches of gentle humour. All up it is an engaging look at a mystery that has intrigued many South Australians for over 60 years. On 1 December 1948 a middle-aged man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Adelaide, believed to have been poisoned. The South Australian police tried every possible avenue to determine his identity and cause of death, without success. Kerry Greenwood’s review of the police investigations is entwined with stories about her beloved father, reflections on her visits to South Australia as a young woman, and an excellent commentary on events of the time, which may have had some bearing on the life of the deceased, including the possibility of a political assassination. Among the clues to his death is a code—inscribed in a copy of the Persian poetry collection The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam—which has never been broken. ‘Tamam Shud’ are the last two words of The Rubaiyat. Greenwood finishes the book with a short story in which her crime fiction heroine Phryne Fisher finds a partial solution to the murder. This book will find fans among Greenwood’s readers and those interested in true crime and social history.

Mandy Macky is the owner of Dymocks Adelaide



Category: Reviews