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This is amazing. I love mysteries like this. Bits of remind me of Twin Peaks.
Might track down a copy of the book about the case.
There are a lot of people who have spent a lot of time investigating this thing themselves.
The most plausible explanation seems to be that it's something to do with spying, though - the connection with the other guy who died with another copy of the same book, but they were both editions which *didn't exist*, is pretty indicative of something shady...
heres another interesting article i read recently, well worth the read...
Not nearly as crazy, but was still pretty scary for the day or so it was happening when nobody knew what the hell was actually happening.
Man is found on a beach, dead. Immaculately dressed. Labels cut out of clothes, only possessions a one-way ticket from Adelaide and a piece of paper torn out of an extremely rare edition of a book of Persian poetry - the final line of the book, which translates as, "It Has Ended." He has certain physical attributes which are very unusual, but no other identifying features. No obvious cause of death, nor indication whether it was suicide or murder.
Police search around and find a train station locker with a suitcase in it, deposited the day before the man died. Contains strange items (knife without a handle, sheet of zinc, etc.) but nothing to identify the man other than a ball of thread which had been used to sew up a hole in the pockets of the suit he was found wearing.
Then someone came forward and said they found a copy of the book of Persian poetry that the note was ripped from in the back of their car - they had assumed their brother-in-law had left it there. In the book the page had been torn out, and there was a phone number for a woman called Jestyn. The police spoke to Jestyn and she said she had given a copy of that book to a man she had known during the war, a guy called Alfred Boxall. The police went to Afred's house and he was alive and well, and still had the book of poetry with her inscription in it.
It's also the only other known copy of the specific edition of that book of poetry. The police eventually tracked down the edition to a small independent bookstore in New Zealand who had put it out during the war, but none of their editions was the shape and size of the two the police had found - despite the fonts and layouts being identical.
Then the police found indentations of writing on the first book of poetry, the one with the page missing. Examining it they uncover five lines of letters which seem to indicate some kind of obvious code, but despite sending it to military codebreakers around the world, to this day nobody has managed to crack it.
The case it still unsolved.
Some private investigators who have taken a person interest in this over the years have pointed out that the woman's son - born when she was with another man - bears a striking resemblance to the dead man. And, when shown a photo of him, she reacted with shock and surprise, but then refused to say that she knew him when it was pretty clear she did. So some people think that she, or someone she knew, bumped him off, as maybe this guy was going to expose their affair.
But in that case there are just so many weird extra little facts. Like, the woman was a nurse in the war, and had connections to a local military base which is known as a sort of Australian Area 51. Cutting the labels out of clothing is standard procedure for undercover agents. The other man she sent the book of poetry to, Alfred, lived in the same town as the national zinc mining corporation (now known as Rio Tinto), and the guy had a sample sheet of zinc in the suitcase at the train station. And, most intriguingly, there was a case of a Jewish man dying in Malaysia around the same time - one of the only things he had on him was... the same book of Persian poetry, and it was also an edition which didn't actually exist. The police called up the publisher in England to ask about it and they said they'd never gone beyond a fifth edition, but the one the Jewish guy had stated it was the seventh edition in the front. It seems that, at that time, that particular book was used as some kind of code or cipher book - which would also explain the mysterious letters in the back of the dead man's copy.
Then there's the third theory, that he killed himself because he was a closet transvestite and his secret was discovered. The coroner noted he had unusually well-developed calves, like someone who wears high heels often, and he had a slightly-faded tan running up his legs, ending just below his groin. His physique, in general, was that of a ballet dancer, or a competitive swimmer, the coroner said. Very good shape for a man in his 40s, but at the same time, not entirely sure what activities he would have done regularly to sculpt his body in such a way.
in other news, you should read The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (The book the page was torn from) It's beautiful.
And yes, it is beautiful.
I'd love to read the book by Gerry Feltus that's mentioned in the article, too, although it's probably a chore trying to get it shipped from Australia.