A spy among us
THE LOST PAGES By R. D. Francis Self- published $ 26 + $ 4.20 postage Order: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Lost Pages is the fi rst book for Englishman R. D. Francis, who has lived in Tasmania for several years.
The novel is fast- moving and full of action. It is rather short – just 134 pages – but if you’re looking for an adventure which includes intrigue, bad guys, potential international incidents, exciting women and exotic foreign places then this is your book.
The hero is Jack Harrison who, while only in his 30s, has enjoyed a successful career in the British Secret Service.
He also has a great interest in calligraphy, ancient history and ancient manuscripts.
Shunning the life of the Service, he makes Tasmania his home buying a hobby farm – it would seem his peaceful future is assured.
Until “my old boss from the Intelligence Department in London” shows up.
B. J. Loader has hunted Harrison down for a special job – to locate missing pages from an old manuscript called The Book of Kells, a priceless manuscript “probably from the eighth century”. The missing pages need to be found so the British prime minister can present the manuscript as a gift to his Irish counterpart.
Loader approaches Harrison because of his knowledge and special skills in this area. But British Intelligence is not the only one on the trail of the missing pages.
A wealthy individual – and we never really fi nd out who – employs several tough guys to get the missing pages before Harrison can.
The action starts almost immediately, when Harrison leaves Loader behind at his farm while visiting his neighbour. Loader is attacked by vicious thugs who send him off to the Royal Hobart Hospital.
Harrison then sets about his business, taking up the tempting fi nancial offer of Loader’s. To fi nd these missing pages to complete the manuscript, Harrison travels to Amsterdam, Rome, Tuscany and Venice, before moving across to London and southern England, all the while stalked by unsavoury characters.
Along the way he meets Fiona, a professional photojournalist, and they team up on the adventure.
It’s a risking business though, and as he says halfway through the story: “I’ve been chased, captured, beaten up, incarcerated and nearly burned alive.”
With the help of professors, matrons and minister of religions, the missing pages are fi nally found, which need to be transported to Dublin where they can be presented in a formal manner.
On the journey across the Irish Sea, the ferry on which they are travelling is attacked by men on a cabin cruiser, who board the ferry with their guns.
They are given the missing pages by Harrison on the orders of Loader and the crooks leave satisfi ed, believing they have achieved their aim.
Harrison is furious with Loader, only to be told that the pages were not genuine and the real ones have travelled by a different method.
For anyone looking for a fastmoving adventure story, much in the vein of James Bond, this is a book for you.
JUBILEE OF TASMANIA AND THE CESSATION OF TRANSPORTATION MEDAL By Roger McNeice OAM Self- published $ 25.50 + $ 5.50 postage
Roger McNeice OAM, wellknown numismatist, has put pen to paper once more to produce a small book on the medallion/ medal dating from 1853 to herald the cessation of transportation.
Nine thousand of these medals were made from white metal or pewter and were presented to schoolchildren of the day.
However, a bronze medal was also produced, but restricted to only 100, which were presented to leading citizens of the colony.
Only one gold medal was made, which was presented to Queen Victoria.
It was an important medallion, highlighting the cessation of the accursed convict transport system which came to an end at the same time of the colony’s Jubilee ( 1803- 1853).
The book, however, is not just about the medal.
The majority of it deals with the steps leading up to the cessation and what happened when news was received that the anti-transportationists had won.
As McNeice says, “to fully understand a medallion was issued to commemorate this signifi cant event, it is necessary to look back to the early colonial settlement of the island and trace the events which led up to the issue of the medallion”.
In was in 1847 that concerted moves were made in Launceston to organise resistance to transportation and petition London for its abolition.
Groups expanded rapidly – not only to Hobart, but to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and as far afi eld as New Zealand.
In the end, all their efforts proved fruitful as news was received on April 26, 1853, that convict transportation to the colony was to cease.
What was intriguing was the extent of celebrations which happened throughout the island, not just at Hobart and Launceston, but many country towns such as Ross, Campbell Town and Oatlands.