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In 1948 a man was found dead on an Adelaide beach Well dressed and unmarked he had a half smoked cigarette by his side but no identity documents Six decades on we don’t know who he was how he got there or how he died Somerton Man remains one of Australia’s most mysterious cold casesYet it is the bizarre details of this case that make it the stuff of a spy novel The missing labels from all his clothing The tiny piece of paper with the words Tamam Shud found folded into a tiny bundle in his fob pocket A mysterious code found etched inside the very book of Persian poetry from which this note was tornBrimming with facts that are stranger than fiction the case has intrigued novelist Kerry Greenwood for almost her whole life She goes on a journey into her own past to try to solve this crime uncovering a new way of writing about true crime – and herself – as she goes


10 thoughts on “Tamam Shud The Somerton Man Mystery

  1. says:

    In 1948 a man was found dead on an Adelaide beach Well dressed and unmarked he had a half smoked cigarette by his side but no identity documents Six decades on we don’t know who he was how he got there or how he died Somerton Man remains one of Australia’s most mysterious cold casesI came across this incident in another book I was reading and it interested me enough to go looking for details When I discovered a book about it written by one of my favourite authors I obviously had to read itKerry Greenwood had a huge interest in the story plus a knowledge of the area and lots of information about the ways people can die gleaned from her research when writing the Phryne Fisher books She made the perfect author for this book presenting all the details arguing different theories giving the reader plenty of background detail and finally writing it all in an entertaining easy to read mannerBest of all was a Phryne Fisher short story included at the end in which Phryne solves the mystery of the Somerton Man This was fun and also unusual in that it is set much later than the series and Phryne is much older So if you are a fan of the Phryne Fisher books and you want to know what happens to her later in life read this


  2. says:

    35 stars rounded down This is mystery author Kerry Greenwood's foray into one of Australia's most enduring mysteries the identity and antecedents of a man found dead on Adelaide's Somerton Beach in 1948 with no documents clothing labels or any other clues but a rolled torn page from a book Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám bearing the phrase Tamám Shud Farsi for it is endedfinished The remaining part of the book was found abandoned nearby containing a coded message which remains undeciphered to this day raising speculation that Somerton Man may have been a spy Copious forensic investigation has never even been able to establish whether or not his death was natural or the result of murder Greenwood has a long running personal fascination with the mystery her father was briefly based in Adelaide at the time Somerton Man died Her book is a reasonably thorough coverage of the known facts up to but not including the present efforts to obtain a DNA sample from material remaining in a plaster cast made of Somerton Man's remains However I felt that I learned no than I had already known about the case from the Casefile podcast's comprehensive episode I found Greenwood's occasionally flippant tone a bit jarring this is the story of a real person's death after all not lighthearted murder fiction That said I did enjoy some of the snippets of Adelaide history and folklore despite spending part of my childhood in Adelaide I'd never previously heard the story of Don Dunstan riding on to a crowded beach on a camel to reassure citizens that a psychic predicted tsunami was not in fact approaching I wonder whether this is an invention of Greenwood's while there was a tsunami panic in Adelaide in January 1976 I can find no reference or photographs of the camelThe last 20% of the book contains a Phrynne Fisher Greenwood's best known character short story in which an aging Fisher investigates the case of Somerton Man with the aid of some friends from the intelligence community gathered during her stint in the French Resistance during WW2


  3. says:

    I really liked this book Even though it wasn't what I thought it would be Not so much a non fiction tract as a memoir Greenwood tells her story with a charming ease She peppers the tales of Adelaide and her father and her upbringing with historical asides and amusing tangents about other people she's met or other stories she's heard All up the book feels like a pleasant afternoon in the company of someone with wit and style and perhaps an endless supply of Pimms and little cakes There's a 40 page Phryne Fisher short story at the back of the book for the fans but not for me I think I prefer Ms Greenwood's company to Ms Fisher's heroics a list of resources for the real life Tamam Shud murder mystery and some correspondence with a code breaker and a poisons expert Of the actual Somerton Man mystery which is what I thought the book was about Greenwood asserts that so little is really known that the mystery properly belongs to the realm of novelists rather than forensics She does posit a convincing conclusion for why he came to be on that beach though the exact cause of his death is just so much speculation This an interesting little book uite genre breaking in its way I enjoyed it Recommended #aww2013 no10


  4. says:

    One word for ya PADDING Nothing in this book that you wouldn't find in a long form article the Wikipedia page or runresolvedmysteries write up on the mystery the author has just included a lot of personal anecdotes to up word count and if this is the style of true crime writing you like this book might be for you It's not my favourite kind; in other reviews namely McNamara's I'll Be Gone In The Dark I've touched on how I think true crime writing should stick to the facts and not get lost in verbose reveries about things that are only tangentially related to the case I really couldn't care less about the crime writer's opinions on the case unless they're ualified and if they're not step aside and let the experts handle it


  5. says:

    Not sure if I'm just way to mean when I judge authors but Kerry Greenwood seems to gain my dislike remarkably easily I have read one of her fiction books before which utterly turned me off her but this book is non fiction and I like to give every author a second chance The book was kind of worth reading It was only just bearable reading something by this author again because it was based on fact and not her boring and yucky imagination Part of the reason I think that Greenwood as an author annoys me is she comes as across as one of those antiuated hypocritical feminists that interject gender politics in to everything where it has no relevance what so ever Also this book is riddled with the mistakes of an intellectual that has become 'smart' by years of pushing herself with very little chance of actually being truly brilliant in the brains department Harsh I am but I'm fairly sure I'm not alone in my judgement as the copy of this book I borrowed from the library has pencil marks from another reader's furious corrections of Greenwood's naiveness and stupidity Never again will I read another Greenwood Although I do have to say that for an author I despise I like the mixed up approach of the book as she interjects parts of creative nonfiction and includes tangents of her own family history in there Her Dad seems nice and like he really loved her I want to say something nice about Greenwood because I feel awful concluding my thoughts about her on a negative basis I'm sure she's an alright person but I just don't get along with her writing style it seems very pompous and self agrandising Something tells me she would also be like this as a person too


  6. says:

    Everything you wanted to know about Somerton man except who he was and how he died Nonetheless still a fascinating read


  7. says:

    This book which tells of the mysterious still unidentified man found dead at Somerton beach in Adelaide starts very well mainly because it's a terribly exciting and mind boggling case; brimming with unfathomable and strange evidence that wouldn't be out of place in a John Dickson Carr novel and yet at the same time completely devoid of any ordinary or natural cluesSadly though the book isn't as in depth as I'd like and it also didn't tell me much that I didn't already know and bases itself mostly on speculation not that I can really blame it for that that's all there isWhat I absolutely didn't count on however was that the last 20% of the book was a short story based on the case and not a terribly engaging one at that If that had been omitted I might have been inclined to give this book a higher rating even though it mostly goes over well because the case is so interesting rather than the uality of the writing or investigation


  8. says:

    2019 bk 152 A fascinating look at the mystery surrounding the man who was found dead on Somerton Beach Adelaide Australia in December of 1948 Kerry Greenwood lawyer and mystery author takes a hand at looking at what was known and providing an idea of what may have been the actions resulting in his death A well written and researched book that provides from the police reportsautopsy reports than I've seen reported before What makes the book come alive is the places where Kerry's father's life and her own life intersect with information All of those tidbits help build her thesis about what happened I enjoyed seeing how her ideas changed from the time in which she used the circumstances of the Somerton man's death to write one of her fictional short stories Phryne Fisher until she wrote this book I find her ideas very plausible and enjoyed this look at Adelaide Australia in the 1940's through the current years


  9. says:

    Being a criminal analystinvestigator myself I thought I would like this than I should have If the novel only centred on the Tamam Shud mystery I probably would have but there were also numerous personal references that didn't go well with the original story Some links of interestList of facts about the case from Adelaide University that are often misreportedSydney Morning Herald article Riddle on the Sands


  10. says:

    I have never read any of the Phryne Fisher mysteries but if this book is any indication of how good those books are I will soon be buying the set Greenwood looks at the mysterious death of a man on a beach in 1948 All of the labels were removed from his clothes He carried no ID and in his pocket was a piece of paper with the words Tamam Shud Who was he? How did he die? Was he murdered? Greenwood tries to solve the mystery and even lets Phryne have a go at it in a short story at the end of the book Written with wit charm and an eye for a good mystery this is a pearler of a book