Thank you for your interest in Murders in SYDNEY. Below are the first two chapters in the book:
Monday, 30 November
Throughout New South Wales, Australia
“Killer arrested!” exclaimed the street corner newspaper vendor. “Read the full details of the arrest for the killings in the Prince Albert, the Tooey Rocks, and on the Bridge. It’s exclusive only in the Tribune!” The hawker continued his routine of showing the headlines, taking the dollar coin, and then targeting some new customers. If a driver showed interest, the newsman would venture out into the traffic to make a sale, but he tended to stay mostly on the sidewalk near his dwindling stack of newspapers. It was a good day to be selling newspapers. Headlines always sold more papers, and sensational headlines sold them even faster.
The headlines on the morning’s Sydney Tribune shouted in celebration Killer Arrested in 3 “Famous Sites” Murders! The continuing front-page article was intended to be sensational, contain exclusive information, and deliver a sense of relief to the inhabitants of Sydney and the outlying areas of New South Wales. Whether the article achieved its intended results would remain unknown, but most newsstands sold out of all their copies before 0830 hours, even with more copies printed than on a normal Monday morning. But, then, this wasn’t a normal Monday morning.
The article continued,
In a televised press conference last evening, New South Wales Police Commissioner Colin Martin announced the arrest of Harold Steinberg, a 42-year old man from Landeen Bush, a small community in northwest New South Wales. Steinberg is being held without bond for the three “Famous Sites” murders as they’ve been called because of where the bodies were found: Prince Albert Winery, Tooey Rocks Nature Preserve, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s not clear if Steinberg has retained the services of a defence lawyer, and a motive has not yet been released.
Commissioner Martin was tight-lipped on details, but he did say that more information would be released following Steinberg’s arraignment in NSW Supreme Court today. The Commissioner did say, “The fine residents of Sydney and all of New South Wales can sleep comfortably knowing that the perpetrator of these heinous crimes has been apprehended and is in custody.”
Full accounts of the murders, previously well-publicized in all the media, were once again provided in case there was a reader who had not yet heard about them. The locals knew the details, as the murders had commanded front page news in the papers and they’d also been the lead-in reports on the radio and the television. The grisly details of the sinister crimes added to the appeal for many readers, and the reporters were more than willing to cater to that desire. This morning’s newspaper also contained additional advertisements as the publisher knew that more copies would be sold, and he was certainly eager to cash in on the increased advertising revenues.
Foot traffic was expected to be extraordinarily busy around the Supreme Court offices later today between Philip and Macquarie Streets where Harold Steinberg would be arraigned. Although the three “Famous Sites” murder victims were complete unknowns and not famous in their own right, the crusty residents of Sydney were not appreciative of anyone misusing or desecrating places they considered sacred. And the locations of the three murders—the Prince Albert Winery, the Tooey Rocks Nature Preserve, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge—fit into the category of sacred sites.
As the sun climbed higher into the morning sky, the pleasant November day began to give way to a day filled with intrigue and drama. The projected high temperature for the downtown Sydney area was a picture-postcard 31° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit); Bondi Beach was to be a little warmer with mild onshore breezes. There was a high level of security already in place on Philip Street, Macquarie Street, and all around Hyde Park to the south. Barricades had been set up the day before, and both uniformed and plain-clothes police officers were afoot on many blocks around the area. Bomb-sniffing dogs would surprise an occasional person as the dogs seemed to be attracted toward certain types of sandwiches that were inside the office workers’ totes. The startled workers received a calming look from the K-9 officers as the “suspicious” item was revealed.
There were other articles on the inside pages of the newspaper that were essentially a re-hash of previous reports of the murder victims. A sidebar article based on information from published, as well as anonymous, sources chronicled USA Professor Alfred Dunningham’s approach to solving the crime. The article was titled “By the Numbers,” and it re-counted other investigations in which the eccentric math professor had been used by police forces around the world to help them solve mysterious crimes. There was even some mention of his international seminar series titled, “Detective Work Made Easier Through Mathematics”—free publicity, so it seemed. It appeared that the noted professor had once again been able to assist the police in solving the crime.
Two Weeks earlier—Monday, 16 November
Throughout New South Wales, Australia
Residents of Sydney and the outreaches of New South Wales woke to shocking headlines in the morning’s Sydney Tribune, Hanging in Famous Winery. Fewer than one-fifth of Sydney’s 1.2 million households actually took delivery of the paper, but many workers—from secretary to lawyer to labourer to corporate executive—would grab a copy on the way to work, either from an automated box, a street corner vendor, or from a newsstand that sold papers, magazines, and assorted food items. Some would get the paper before taking the train into the city, and others would wait until they exited the station on the way to the office.
“Can you believe the nerve to hang the bloke in the Prince Albert?” the newspaper vendor said as one of his regulars snatched up a copy of the Tribune. “I mean, right there in the middle of the grape fields,” he continued. “When do you think he could’ve done it?” The Prince Albert that the vendor referred to was the Prince Albert Winery, one of the most famous wineries in all of Australia that was started with vines hand-carried by the Prince himself in 1850 on his trip to commemorate the opening of the University of Sydney. The winery was originally royalty property, but it was sold off at auction 85 years ago to add money to the local coffers and because the royals really didn’t know how to properly manage a winery. They knew how to drink the stuff, but they didn’t know how to properly run it as a business, as if the royals were ever concerned about that part of any financial activity.
“Don’t know, mate. I’ve got to read it first. Who was it?”
“The bloke’s name was Rory Allen, but that’s not a name I’ve ever heard, and I’ve lived here all my life.” The vendor always wanted a lively conversation, and it appeared that he now had one going.
“So what do the Police have to say about it? Do they have any idea on why the chap was hanged? And how could they do it in the Prince Albert? Didn’t anybody see it?” The businessman was one of the few who would spend time to say more than just “G’day” to the vendor as they grabbed a morning paper on their way to work.
“They’re not saying much right now; they’re being a bit mum about it. Even the managers at the Prince Albert are confused on how it could’ve been done without being seen. The Police are hoping they’ve got something from their surveillance cameras.” The vendor was now in his element—he knew more about the story than did his customer, and that gave him a power that he reveled in. He would occasionally add a little more detail than what was actually in the paper; but he didn’t feel that there was any harm in that. After all, his customers expected him to be almost as knowledgeable as the newscasters on the telly because news was his business, along with a little gossip, and the occasional action on the ponies or the footy games.
“That is a bit of a frightful sight, isn’t it?” the customer asked, not really expecting an answer as he looked at the photograph of the hanged man. Fortunately, the newspaper had the decency to block out the victim’s face and other potentially identifying features. The picture was still a shocking sight—the body of a lifeless man strung up in the Prince Albert Winery. What was the killer trying to prove? “Any ideas on the motive or why in the Prince Albert?”
“Nothing yet,” the vendor replied. “It just happened yesterday, but I heard that the Police are jumping all over this one.”
“No doubt. What are you hearing?” the customer asked as he pointed to the vendor’s earpiece.
“They’re a bit tight-lipped on the details, although I’ve just heard a lot of traffic on the scanner. No one likes it when someone does something like that in one of our top spots.” The street vendor kept an earpiece in as he listened continuously on the police scanner; he liked being in the know, and especially if he knew it before anyone else.
“You’re dead set on that one, mate. I remember when some crazy fool tried to pour paint all over the top of the Opera House. They attacked that one like a swarm of bees on a new queenie. Gotta get to the office, now. See you tomorrow.”
“Right, mate.” The vendor immediately switched his attention and conversation to another regular who just arrived at his stand. “G’day, mate. Ya gotta see this,” he said as he handed the newspaper to the approaching customer. “Can you believe the nerve to hang the bloke in the Prince Albert?”
And the morning cycle continued in Australia’s largest city.