The Diamond Dakota Mystery.The Diamond Dakota Mystery. Allen & Unwin August 2006 Card covers 222 pp., illustrated. RRP RRP n abbr (= recommended retail price) → PVP m $26.95
... one of the most curious episodes in Australian history--the shooting down of a plane on the remote north coast of Western Australia during WWII; and the disappearance of a cache of diamonds worth tens of millions of dollars, many of which have never been found. Juliet Wills' investigation reveals for the first time new details about this enduring mystery of a lost fortune. (Publicity pamphlet)
I was certainly interested in an update on this mystery as I had read with interest Tyler's 1987 Flight of Diamonds. The Story of Broome's War and the Carnot Bay Diamonds and Gary Disher's beautifully written Past the Headlands which places the diamonds' mystery in a literary (fictional) landscape. This account is a quick read, well written and
entertaining and I enjoyed it, despite Wills committing one of my most hated sins--that of incorporating conversation in a purportedly pur·port·ed
Assumed to be such; supposed: the purported author of the story.
pur·port factual account where no one would have known what had been said, if anything (a sin that is, unfortunately, too often committed these days). Fortunately (for me, anyway) she does not use or abuse this technique too frequently.
Wills describes how the Dutch diamonds were sent out of Java as it fell to the Japanese (and in that description she indulged in that aforementioned a·fore·men·tioned
The one or ones mentioned previously.
Adj. 1. sin) and quickly moved on to what happened to the escaping aircraft and their passengers. Although not end-noted, she draws on recollections and official records to describe the Japanese attack on Broome The town of Broome, Western Australia was attacked by Japanese fighter planes on March 3, 1942, during World War II. At least 88 people were killed.
Although Broome was a small pearling port at the time, it was a major transit point for Dutch aircraft on route from the , summed up simply in her chapter title: Destruction. Although this account is brief, I was caught up in the military and human tragedy and was moved by the personal perspectives presented of, for instance, Sophie van Tour, in Catalina Y59 who watched in horror as her daughter was shot in the eye by a strafing strafe
tr.v. strafed, straf·ing, strafes
To attack (ground troops, for example) with a machine gun or cannon from a low-flying aircraft.
An attack of machine-gun or cannon fire from a low-flying aircraft. Zero and of young Catharina Komen-Blommert who watched her father crumble crum·ble
v. crum·bled, crum·bling, crum·bles
To break into small fragments or particles.
1. To fall into small fragments or particles; disintegrate. before her when he was killed. These and others stories where only sketched, but sketched effectively.
As the Zeroes flew victoriously away, the reader had no time to breathe a sign of relief as Wills then embarked on the description of the attack on Captain Ivan Smirnoff's escaping DC-3, which, unknown to Captain and passengers, carried the Dutch diamonds. This attack, and the aftermath, is central to the story, and Wills deals with it in some detail, drawing on--one assumes from the bibliography--Smirnoff's own account as well as police records.
The military history aspects of the book are confined con·fine
v. con·fined, con·fin·ing, con·fines
1. To keep within bounds; restrict: Please confine your remarks to the issues at hand. See Synonyms at limit. to the first part. Part two deals with the search for the diamonds and piecing together the evidence of their whereabouts where·a·bouts
About where; in, at, or near what location: Whereabouts do you live?
n. (used with a sing. or pl. . Like any mystery novel, we meet and discover aspects of the protagonists, view the investigation and watch the clues come to light and participate in the trial. I must say that I enjoyed this section (but I am always a sucker sucker, common name for members of the family Catostomidae, freshwater fish related to the minnow and catfish families and like them possessing an intricate set of bones forming a highly sensitive hearing apparatus. Suckers range in size from 6 in. for a wellplotted crime novel). Like part one, this was well written and the bibliography indicates that it was drawn from court documents and personal accounts.
In many mysteries of this nature, you are never certain if you have the final solution--and there are still many rumours abounding about the Dakota Diamonds (or, as I have always known them, the Carnot Bay Diamonds) but I was satisfied at the end that we now know as much as we will ever know of this story. Allen & Unwin have categorised Adj. 1. categorised - arranged into categories
classified - arranged into classes this book as History/Adventure, and, under these terms, this book works well. It is well-written, well-paced and entertaining, and it is descriptive, dramatic and reads like an enjoyable adventure novel. Kristen Alexander