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Oddly, there was a half-smoked cigarette in his mouth on the beach, which (when taken together with the lividity) would strongly suggest that the corpse had been actively posed by person or persons unknown.

This combination of facts would seem to rule out suicide.

Careful analysis of this suggests that it is more likely to be an ‘acrostic’ (i.e.

the first letters of a text or poem, possibly as a mnemonic aid for remembering it) than a cipher, because its letter frequencies are more similar to the letter frequencies of the first letters of English words than to those of normal English text.

At this point, the mystery of the case was compounded by the discovery of some faint writing on the rear page of the book.

She did tell police that she had independently given a copy of the Rubaiyat to a man called Alfred Boxall, who she had met at the Clifton Gardens Hotel in Sydney in 1944 while she was training to be a nurse at the nearby Royal North Shore Hospital.

However, Boxall quickly proved to be very much alive and living in Maroubra (and not the dead man found on the beach), leaving both him and the police somewhat baffled.

Up until Thomson’s death in 2005, this was as much as anyone knew.

Tucked into a tiny fob pocket in the dead man’s trousers was a small scrap of printed paper ripped out of a book: mysteriously, it contained the Persian phrase (i.e. This was quickly recognized as being the final words of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, quite a popular book at the time.

And then some months later, a particular copy of the Rubaiyat surfaced with part of the final “Tamam Shud” page removed: it was claimed that the book had been thrown into a car parked near the same beach where the man had been found.

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