Jon Abbott, author of Where have all the children gone? and the as yet unpublished book, The Fall of a God, is a retired, former journalist turned Private Eye, who moved from Johannesburg to Imhoff’s Gift, near Kommetjie with his long suffering wife Gayle four years ago. They have three daughters, two in Johannesburg and one in Australia.
He went to school at Bishops and at the age of 22 he hitch-hiked alone from Cape Town across Africa. Criss-crossing the continent several times on his way up he bought a dugout canoe from one of the locals in what was then the Belgian Congo and paddled 700 miles down the Congo River, reputed to be the deepest river in the world. He started his journalistic career on local weekly and daily newspapers in England before working as a freelance, covering the West Country out of Exeter. There he wrote news reports for all the Fleet Street papers such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror, News of the World, Sunday People and others.
After returning to South Africa he reported for The Star in Johannesburg, initially as the Air Correspondent and then as an investigative journalist. One of his exposés won him The Story of the Year prize.
He then moved to the Sunday Times. For a series of exposés he got the runner-up spot in the Stellenbosch Farmers Winery National Competition for Enterprising Journalism, which was then the premier award of its kind.
Abbott’s hard-hitting column – Business is Business – ran in Business section of the Sunday Times for two years. In it he attacked business leaders for a variety of immoral and illegal practices.
From the Sunday Times he went to the Financial Mail magazine. His reports in that publication as well as the Sunday Times resulted in the appointment of two Government commissions of inquiry and a military board of inquiry.
On leaving journalism he became a self employed business investigator who specialised in life assurance. During this time many of the cases he dealt with were far more sensational than most of the ones he came across during his reporting days.
One of them inspired the book Where have all the children gone? – a mix of fact and fiction – which is available from Amazon.com. The Fall of a God is a factual account of a surgeon, called a butcher on the radio, who ripped off life companies and maimed more than 70 people.
After leaving the PI business he and his wife ran their own bed & breakfasts in Durban and Ballito before returning to Johannesburg briefly, finally settling in Cape Town.
At aged 79 he is currently working on a collection of funnies entitled You can’t be serious and he spends a lot of his time maintaining his Amusing, Hard hitting, Topical blog the Dearjon Letter (http:dearjon-letter.blogspot.com).
“My wife is threatening to divorce me,” he said. “And she’s going to name my blog as the other woman.”
Description of the book, Where have all the children gone?
It was a bogus doctor’s Charles Manson type cult and the monstrous hold he had over a young mother that private investigator, Richard Spencer was asked to probe after she died in mysterious circumstances. As he got deeper into the crazy world of guides from outer space Spencer made a terrible discovery he had to avenge whatever the cost.
The strange powers of a madman; the drunken, womanizing escapades of journalists; the behind the scenes goings on in the life assurance business; the shenanigans in the medical profession and a woman’s revenge so bitter she deprived a father of ever seeing his only child again. That’s all there and more in this intriguing, psychological thriller which has an underlying love story that defied generations of prejudice.
Set in England and apartheid South Africa (1930 – 1985) it is an account of a PI’s one case which changed his life. He was broken by something he could never have believed possible. Hard bitten as he was his final revelation reduced him to a tearful mush.
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What the author experienced in real life after he had completed this novel was something no writer would ever wish for. It had an uncanny resemblance to the horrific experience of the girl in the book only this time it involved one of his daughters in England.
You can read all about that as well.
For articles on our website written by Jon see:
http://scenicsouth.co.za//2012/05/kill-me-im-dying-dearjon-letter/ (Particularly pertinent in the light of the release and return to South Africa of Professor Sean Davison, Wed. 2 May 2012)