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Saturday, April 09, 2016

Unofficial A-Z Challenge: R is For Rowles, S Is For Solomon

R Is For Snowy Rowles

Snowy Rowles. Public Domain

It must be every crime writer's nightmare: you write about the "perfect" crime and someone does it.

On the other hand, it also sells books.

In 1929, Arthur Upfield, author of the Bony 
series, was working on a novel. He had a day job at the time, as a boundary rider on Western Australia's Rabbitproof Fence. In the evenings, he and his comrades sat around and chatted. He spoke about his book and a crime that would really be difficult for his fictional detective to solve - not impossible, of course, but very hard. The body had to be totally destroyed. He asked for ideas, offering a pound reward for something he could use.

A man called George Richie suggested that the body be burned. The bits of bones could be sifted from the ashes, the ashes scattered and the bones pounded down, then dissolved in acid. 

Richie mentioned this to a stockman called Snowy Rowles. Rowles was listening carefully.

By the end of the year he was seen driving a car belonging to two men who had disappeared. In May 1930, another man disappeared; he had last been seen with Rowles. 

But Rowles made one mistake. He left behind a distinctive wedding ring that the man's wife recognised.

The story was soon in all the papers, along with scenes from Arthur Upfield's new book. 

Well, somebody had to do well out of it.

S Is For Ikey Solomon

If you've ever read Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist I bet you never thought that the real life "Fagin" had an Australian connection, did you? Dickens was a journalist at the time and attended his trial.

Ikey Solomon, the man who inspired Fagin, was sentenced and was on his way back to prison when he escaped, with the help of the coachman, who was his father-in-law! He managed to get as far as the U.S., where he might have stayed for the rest of his life, but when his wife, Ann, was transported to Tasmania for receiving stolen goods, he followed her there.

Now things get truly weird. Everyone in the colony knew who he was, but without the paperwork he couldn't be arrested. And that took months to come from England. When it finally arrived, he was sent back to England for trial, the one Dickens attended ...and sentenced to be sent to Tasmania!

Solomon died in 1850 and was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Hobart. 

Did you enjoy these stories? There are plenty more in my book.

Check out the Ford Street Publishing web site here:

A free sample chapter is here.

Tomorrow: T Is For Squizzy Taylor, U Is For Underbelly(T-Sirts)

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