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this is what we know

It is 1948

He was murdered.

A message in his pocket read: it is finished.

The book the message was torn from had a woman’s phone number written on the back.

The woman, Jessica, lived two hundred yards from where the body was found.

He was moved from the place he died to the place he was found.

He was a stranger to Adelaide.

He had the means to identify himself to the person waiting for him.

He spent over an hour in the Adelaide train station shaking off at least two tails.

If this scenario sounds like something out of a sixties crime novel then the good news is that, publisher permitting (bless you Benno), the tentatively named ‘The Bookmaker from Rabaul’ could be all done mid-year.

The cast of real characters includes Roger Hollis, Meyer Lansky, J Edgar Hoover, Ben Chifley, Patrick Heenan, Bert Evatt, Otto, Meredith Gardner, Bill Stanner, Mordecai the black tracker and the man who lost his white tie in Ambon.

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Not to mention one-time pads, interim keys, a day at Bondi Beach and a night in Kings Cross with Sammy Lee and Bob Hope. Add to that a collection of acronyms. BRUSA. FBI. MI5. CIS. NKGB.

Ships? We have the Cycle, the Crusader and the Lady Ruth. They travel from Hong Kong to Singapore, then Ambon and back. The South Western Pacific Area was called the wild west after the war.

We go there.

The RAAF join in, led by Mick Grace, scion of the Grace Brothers family. The story of what his money belt held finally told. And who was the American passenger in the Buffalo fighter destroyed on the Batavia airstrip by the 54th Sentai a couple of days before the fall of Singapore?

He was watching the carnage from the hanger, it was my father’s fighter. He was a FO in 453 squadron. They were drinking coffee at the time.

Our sources are impeccable.

A day on the Hawkesbury in a Halvorsen cruiser courtesy of General Douglas Macarthur and another off Sydney heads in a prawn trawler, where dark deeds lie hidden in the kelp-feathered depths and men are tested beyond endurance.

Russian emigres, coffee bars and CIS sparrows. Chess nights. Illicit love.

Nobody is spared. The language is brutal.

What was Alf Boxall up to?

What was Tom Musgrave up to?

What was that meeting about, the one with Alf, Joy and Jessica?

Where was Jessica on the night of the murder?

Why wasn’t she at home?

Then there is the mystery of the Francis Rubiayat.

This is an Australian story.

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