And the Sea Will Tell

I’ve read three books by author Vincent Bugliosi.

If the former crown attorney was still alive and writing today, I know I’d be reading more.

Bugliosi is best known as the U.S lawyer who succeeded in putting 1960’s hippie cult leader Charles Manson behind bars. His legal career included winning 105 of 106 felony jury trials (including 21 successful murder convictions).

AND THE SEA WILL TELL is the true story of two couples from opposite ends of the social spectrum who visit and briefly inhabit Palmyra Island, a remote 12 km2 atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and Samoa.


At the end of three months of living together, only one of those couples was still alive.

In 1974, Malcolm Graham (aged 43) and his wife Eleanor (aged 40) – a wealthy couple from California – sailed their 38-foot ketch SEA WIND to Palmyra, hoping to find it deserted and to spend a year or more there. 

Convicted felon Buck Walker and his hippie girlfriend Stephanie Stearns (whose name was changed for legal reasons to “Jennifer Jenkins” in the book) coincidentally were also headed to the same island, arriving three days after the Grahams.

Walker had served time in San Quentin for armed robbery and at the time was fleeing the United States on drug possession charges. He had come up with the idea of growing cannabis on Palmyra to support himself. He and Stearns sailed there on a patched-together wooden sloop named the IOLA.

Buck Walker was convicted of the Graham’s murder more than ten years later, in 1985. He and Stephanie Stearns were tried separately.

The task given to defense lawyer Vincent Bugliosi, who represented Stearns, was to convince a jury that Walker had acted alone and without any knowledge or involvement from his girlfriend. On a tiny island in which only four people lived, this was no easy assignment.

To describe Vincent Bugliosi (1934 – 2015) as both an author and a lawyer as meticulous’ is too weak a word. The lazer-focused skill with which he is able to piece together complex chains of logic is truly breathtaking.

Bugliosi’s book was made into a two part made-for-tv mini series in 1991. Richard Crenna (one of my favourite actors) played the role of Bugliosi and Australian actress Rachael Ward portrayed Stephanie Stearns.

True crime writer Tom Bucy published a rebuttal of Bugliosi’s conclusions in 2015 in his book FINAL ARGUMENT.

He proposed that Stephanie Stearns was wrongly acquitted and was in fact fully complicit in the murder of the Grahams in collusion with boyfriend Buck Walker.

Buck Walker passed away in 2010 of a stroke, aged 72. Writing under the name Wesley Walker, he penned a book which was posthumously released in 2015.

In it he fancifully claimed to have been seduced by Eleanor Graham and, in the midst of lovemaking, been caught by Malcolm Graham, who shot his wife and then attempted to shoot him.

Did I mention that now makes it two reads of Bugliosi’s AND THE SEA WILL TELL – 20 years apart? You never know… there might be a third. It’s that good.


The World’s Greatest Mystery (Part 2)

One of the more fascinating UFO cases described in the Netflix series TOP SECRET UFO PROJECTS DECLASSIFIED took place in Melbourne (Australia) back in 1966.

I know – I know. That’s the naïve pre-internet days – back when people could be fooled a lot more easily, right?

That’s what I thought, but wait ’till you hear the details of this case yourself. Then judge for yourself.

At 11:00 am on Wednesday, 6 April 1966, approximately 250 students and staff from Westall High School, (now Westall Secondary College) in the Melbourne suburb of Clayton South reported seeing a flying object, described as a grey saucer-shaped craft with a slight purple hue and about twice the size of a family car.

According to the students, the object was descending, overflew the high school, and disappeared behind a stand of trees.

Approximately 20 minutes later the object reportedly reappeared, climbed at speed and departed towards the north-west.

It was at this point the headmaster came out and ordered everyone to go back to class.

Some accounts describe the object as being pursued by five unidentified aircraft.

Perhaps an even greater mystery is what happened following the sighting. Within 40 minutes, airforce and army personnel in their trucks poured into the area and formed a security barrier around the reserve. 

Government officials warned staff not to say anything. Andrew Greenwood, who was a Year 9 Science teacher at the school at the time, recounts his experience in the interview below –

A 52 minute documentary was made about the incident back in 2010 –

And to round-off the clip-fest, the WESTALL INCIDENT is discussed at length in a 2020 documentary called THE PHENOMENON

U.S. author ELLE COSIMANO has released the third in her Finlay Donovan mystery series – FINLAY DONOVAN JUMPS THE GUN.

Title character Finlay Donovan is an author and single mum. In this installment she takes on – in her own mumsy, writerly way – the Russian mafia (something Denzil Washington did to inspired effect in THE EQUALIZER 2014).