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  Authors and Book Reviews  

April 10 - 17, 2000

 

 Coastweek   Kenya


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NO LONGER ... 'MURDER
BY PERSONS UNKNOWN'

BEST SELLING MOMBASA AUTHOR ERROL TRZEBINSKI
SOLVES A NAIROBI 'HAPPY VALLEY' MURDER CASE !

Coastweek - - IN THE EARLY hours of 24 January 1941, Captain the Hon. Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll, hereditary High Constable of Scotland and Kenya's Assistant Military Secretary, was shot in the head.

His body was shoved into the footwell of his hired Buick, which was run off the road. The murder might have passed unnoticed: an unremarkable detail in a corner of the British Empire distracted by the Second World War.

But a sensational trial, in which complex social comings and goings titillated the watching audience with tales of love affairs and wild parties, and a 'Not Guilty' verdict meant that Lord Erroll's memory would not discreetly fade.

Extraordinarily, the murder has never been reinvestigated, and Erroll's killer has never been found, the coroner's last word on the subject being that it was 'Murder By Persons Unknown'.

Coastweek - - Best Selling
Author Errol Trzebinski.

(PHOTO - EVENING STANDARD LONDON)

It was one of the century's great unsolved crimes.

Behind the diverting tales of white mischief among the settlers of Kenya's "Happy Valley" lies the uncomfortable truth: someone wanted Erroll dead, and the motives and means and identity of that person have never been properly explained.

Until now.

Errol Trzebinski, biographer of Denys Finch Hatton, Beryl Markham and the Kenya pioneers, is uniquely placed to reopen the investigation into the mysterious death of Lord Erroll.

She knows the people and the places, and has unrivalled access to Erroll's surviving friends and family circles.

She didn't set out to seek a killer previously overlooked in all the colourfully distracting images of the Happy Valley set, but that is what she found.

And she has uncovered a plot that stretches from a dusty crossroads on the Ngong-Nairobi road to the heart of British power in Whitehall.

For the first time, the life of Lord Erroll, the threat he posed and the dangerous friends and enemies he gained can properly be revealed.

At the heart of the story is no crime of passion or lovers' feud but a carefully constructed kill.

Errol Trzebinski is author of

'The Kenya Pioneers',
'The Lives of Beryl Markham'
and
'Silence Will Speak', the biography of Denys Finch Hatton which was used as the source for the love story in the Oscar-winning film 'Out of Africa'.

She lives in Mombasa.

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