Book Reviews: June 2013

Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer’s greatest challenge by ACT Marke
A Seeker in Papua The Journal of a Young Missionary May 1923-January 1926 Iris Pederick and Phillip Pope (Eds)

Twixt Semites and swastikas: Temlett Conibeer’s greatest challenge by ACT Marke
ISBN 9780646577005 First published by Frogmouth Press 2012 Soft cover, 278 pp Cost: $35 incl p&p within Australia Email:
With fresh leads on alleged Nazi war criminals in South American not eventuating, Mossad turn their attention to PNG and find rich pickings, with disastrous consequences for Temlett Conibeer. Temlett is a field worker based at Lae in the sixties, who becomes involved with a very attractive but rather eccentric young woman, a medical graduate from East Germany, who mysteriously disappears. She is quickly followed by another, from Tasmania, to whom he is tricked into offering accommodation and who knows no-one in the Territory, yet is murdered soon after arrival. Temlett is immediately suspected and eventually convicted of her murder. It appears he faces a long jail term, until the reappearance of the German girl, Lena Adler, who breaks him out of prison and reveals her real identity and purpose in the Territory. There follows a covert and hazardous trek across much of the centre of New Guinea by Temlett and Lena, sleeping rough without food or baggage and meeting bush characters, peril and adventure in a desperate attempt to clear his name. When the real murderer is located, Temlett find that his living nightmare is just about to begin.
Review by Chris Warrillow

Andrew Marke’s third book is a must-read for those who, like me, enjoyed his two earlier publications. Those who have not already savoured Marke’s earlier writings will be tempted to do so after reading his latest warts and all, sometimes humorous,account of the saga that develops for his alter ego—Temlett Conibeer—as he moves around the jungles (urban and bush) of the former TPNG, now dubbed in tourist brochures as “Like every place you’ve never been”.
Many of us remember PNG with great fondness. The author’s descriptions of walking the terrain, and of the flora and flora encountered in the bush, will evoke memories. Although the locals do not play a big role in the story, memories will be refreshed by descriptions of limited encounters with co-workers in the office and interaction with domestic staff that often lived with their families in our backyard boi haus.
First time readers of Marke will recall some of the repetitious banter between the members of social clubs frequented by expatriates in the then TPNG: readers of the earlier books may be bored! Former field officers may recall, with some nostalgia, the loneliness and privations of the bush and the sometimes lack of privacy due to circumstances not everyone has encountered.
The fiction is given verisimilitude due to its unfolding in the “Land of the Unexpected” and brief encounters with life in rural Tasmania.

A Seeker in Papua The Journal of a Young Missionary May 1923-January 1926 Iris Pederick and Phillip Pope (Eds)
Geelong, 2012. ISBN 978 0 646 58245 0 Available from Iris Pederick, 31 Sydenham Street Manifold Heights Victoria 3218. $65 incl postage.
John Kissack Arnold was a Methodist minister for three years in the Papuan islands, initially at the Methodist head station of Salamo on Fergusson Island, returning after marriage for a further two. These Journals cover only the first three years. At the end there are half a dozen pages of photographs of his wife Hilda Arnold in Papua before her ill health forced them to retire in 1928. Jack Arnold filled a multiplicity of roles: school teacher and preacher, paramedic and dispenser of medicines, translator, and observer of culture.
Originally a Victorian government school teacher before he left for Salamo, Arnold was a good all-rounder, mixing well with government officials, traders and staff members from Samoa and Fiji. Because Arnold identified with non-mission Australians including the planter Neil Anderson, unsuspecting traders on Samarai Island took him as one of their own:
A trader named Dallen came up and said to us
‘By—— Samarai is full of ——-missionaries!’
I winked at Anderson and he grinned in pure joy.
‘Why, the —— are getting everywhere’ he added.
An Anglican minister passed us. ‘There’s another
d—— devil dodger! Wherever do the ——come
from!… Where do you stay, I haven’t seen you about?’
‘I come from Salamo’, I replied. And in sheer joy this
rough wriggled and made a face of surprise, while
Anderson and I had to laugh outright. (pp. 110-11)
The Journals are lightened by some wry humour: “Cashin preached … He didn’t do too well. He told us that Napoleon went to St Helena in the Victory, and the Crusaders left England on the Mayflower”. (p.119).
There are also some shrewd comments on the foibles of the Reverend M.K.Gilmour , long-time District chairman. Son of an Anglican rector, Gilmour became a kind of Methodist “episcopal autocrat” who did not find it easy to delegate.
Jack Arnold was a fine photographer, and some 100 of his best photographs are superbly presented by Phillip Pope the co–editor, with Iris Pederick, Arnold’s elder daughter, compiling the notes. There are also many line illustrations, maps, and other prints.
A Seeker in Papua is highly recommended.
David Wetherell
The writer is a grand-nephew of J.W.Dixon, Arnold’s friend and fellow Methodist minister in the Papuan islands.

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