The Satin Man (2013) by Alan Whitacker and Stuart Mullins

More than 50 years since the Beaumont children were taken from Glenelg, what inroads have been made in the investigation?

This book had been sitting in my ‘to read’ pile for a couple of years (it’s big pile -to be fair, it’s its own separate bookshelf). Then, during a shift at the new Pop-Up Bookshop in Glenelg, I fell into a conversation with a customer about what they are reading, then she points out our Folio Copy of the Prophet and BOOM we are talking about the Somerton Man and then the Beaumonts. She raved about this book, and I’m so grateful to her for convincing me to come home and grab it from the shelf and start straight away. I  finished it in two days.

Having not yet read Whitaker’s first book on this subject (Searching for the Beaumont Children) did not impede my enjoyment at all. This book covers what happened one the day of January 1966, which places any newcomers on the scene. But also goes on to introduce  an undeniably compelling theory of what happened to the children and who was responsible for it.

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While it would be easy to write-off another theory on the case, this one comes with a whole lot of corroboration and interesting points. I feel real empathy for people who are victims of crime who go on to suffer substance problems or mental health issues, because societies a whole are so quick to say such people are not trustworthy. Even if this were to be true (which I’m not saying it is,but go with me on this), there is a world of difference between being ‘untrustworthy’ and constructing an elaborate tale which is corroborated on many points and never veered from once during multiple retellings, to private investigators, psychologists and authors. Even if just a small part of what is alleged in this book has a true basis, this would have been enough to flag the police’s attention in the immediate wake of the crime. Like they say, it’s not always enough to canvass sex offenders in an area who are known – think of all the unknown, behind door ones.

So much tragedy is contained within this book; the fates of the Beaumont children and their parents; the lives destroyed by trying to solve the case and the past and present suffering of the “star” of the book, a man who alleges his Adelaide businessman father with a fetish for satin clothing was involved. It is impossible to not read this and feel frustrated at the lack of a cordial investigation or further digging of the site mention – especially when we consider the time and money that was poured into crackpot psychic suggestions.

Naturally, I have to declare my bias in appreciating this book. Any piece of well-researched convincing argument which promotes the theory that a sizeable group of powerful, well-to-do men in the 1960s to 1980s are responsible for some of the worst crime in our history (the book touches upon the Adelaide Oval abductions and Family murders) will score big in my book (pun?). Seriously, South Australia’s past is like a loose concrete step and we need someone independent and untouchable who can lift it and show who Von Einem and Peter Liddy were connected to.

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Me, writing that

The young woman in the bookstore said that her family had just moved to the area and it was spooky, she had walked the laneways mentioned in the book and looked at the house. I’ve never really had much to do with Glenelg, especially since Magic Mountain closed down, and I agree – being so close to places where such strange things have happened gives me the shivs on a daily basis.

If you are interested in Australian True Crime, read this book. If you are interested in Adelaide and its history, read this book. 5 out of 5.

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