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The Life and Death of Lord Erroll: The Truth Behind the Happy Valley Murder Paperback – 24 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (24 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007306970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007306978
  • Product Dimensions: 19.9 x 2.8 x 13.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,719 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In January, 1941, the residents of the Wanjohi Valley, (known to posterity as Happy Valley), north of Nairobi, in Kenya, were shocked by the murder of Captain the Hon. Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll, Hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland. Lord Erroll had been shot and his body dumped in the footwell of his hired Buick car. The grim discovery was made at the crossroads on the Ngong-Nairobi road. The twice-married Erroll had been having a very public affair with Diana Broughton, the new young wife of Sir Henry John Delves Broughton. Delves Broughton was subsequently arrested for the murder, and what followed was a sensational trial which became one of the cause-celebres of the 20th century. The trial focused as much on the decadent lifestyle of the Happy Valley set as it did on the defendant and victim; following Broughton's acquittal the case remained unsolved and passed into legend.

The air of mythology surrounding Erroll's death intensified with the publication of James Fox's White Mischief in the early 1980s. This best-selling book, later turned into a hugely successful film, depicted the Happy Valley set as a glamorous yet debauched and adulterous group of people. It also implied that Delves Broughton was a jealous cuckold who was relieved of the charge of Erroll's murder simply because of his position in society. Errol Trzebinski, while making respectful allusion to Fox's work, acknowledging it as "a classic detective story", makes the salutary point that "the Wanjohi Valley settlers were not best pleased with the light in which the book portrayed their forebears". Her own piece of detection, The Life & Death of Lord Erroll, aims to set the record straight as a fresh investigative account of the Erroll murder. Trzebinski, biographer of such Kenya stalwarts as Denys Finch Hatton and Beryl Markham, is herself a resident of the country: "for six years my family and I lived where the scandal still thrived in people's memories". With access to the surviving friends and relatives of Erroll and others involved in the case, Trzebinski has, with forensic thoroughness pieced together neglected clues, to claim that the stories of high living among the Happy Valley set were a cover-up for a more serious political motive for Erroll's killing. Trzebinski outlines evidence that Erroll's murder was possibly an SOE execution, undertaken during the heightened atmosphere of World War Two to dispose of a man apparently closely connected to the British Fascist movement.

Whatever the truth behind the death of Lord Erroll, Trzebinski's research is exhaustive and the result makes for highly interesting reading. Though she aims to set the record straight about Happy Valley, the fascination for this set of people and "the darker side of exuberant living" looks certain to endure. As Trzebinski writes:"Despite the reams of material about Lord Erroll's murder, the elementary question still begs to be answered: whodunnit?" --Catherine Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Exhaustive examination of Erroll's life and times.' Sunday Times -- Sunday Times

'Sensational.' -- Daily Mail

'Sensational.' Daily Mail -- Daily Mail

'Worthy of a James Bond adventure ... told in riveting detail by Trzebinski.' -- Scotsman

'Worthy of a James Bond adventure ... told in riveting detail by Trzebinski.' Scotsman -- SCotsman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 2000
Format: Hardcover
Several years ago, I listened to James Fox's "White Mischief" on audio tape. Neil Hunt's narration was hysterically funny and "White Mischief' quickly became one of my favorite books. After a while, however, I realized that Fox's explanation for the murder of Josslyn Hay, the 22nd Earl of Erroll, made little sense. Still,the murder of Lord Erroll had all the elements of a bestselling thriller--sex, snobbery and espionage. There is slight wonder why the mystery captured the imagination of the world.
According to Fox, Lord Erroll was murdered by Sir Jock Delves Broughton, the cuckolded husband of Erroll's most recent mistress. Other than a striking coincidence involving black powder bullets and a confession that Broughton made to a 15-year-old girl, that story did not seem credible. Broughton's actions after the murder were especially odd. Even stranger was the atmosphere of fear present 40 years after the event. Characters as disparate as an old native servant and a Nairobi attorney became afraid of even appearing to cooperate with Fox.
In "The Life and Death of Lord Erroll" Errol Trzebinski proposes a much more likely scenario. According to her account, Hay was a loose cannon at a dangerous time--the outbreak of World War II-- and was assassinated by agents of the British government.
One of the weaknesses of this book is that Trzebinski assumes readers know and understand the position of Great Britain, as well as its dominions, in 1940. Although some background is given, it is not enough. She does make it clear that the Italian army was on the northern border of Kenya. The settlers were already alienated from Whitehall.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By helen on 6 Dec. 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a brilliant book - especially exciting if you are familiar with James Fox's earlier explanation of Lord Errol's murder. Trzebinski's explanation, however, is much more plausible, taking into consideration historical events and the highly charged political climate of the time. The right-wing involvement makes a lot of sense, only occasionally does it sound just like an almost too perfect spy story, with beautiful yet ruthless female assassins. Still - an absolute must-read!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By drummondg@cia.org.uk on 12 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
The story of Lord Erroll's death is one of the most famous unsolved murders of its day and Errol Trzebinski relates the story in a far more sensible and less sensationalised way than the previous authority on the case, James Fox, the author of White Mischief.
As with other murders e.g President Kennedy, the conspiracy theory is easy to subjecture about but difficult to prove in such a way to make it truly believable. If indeed what Ms Trebinski writes is true then this book has uncovered a sensational story. However the idea that it was part of a Government conspiracy is hard to swallow. In 1941 there were far more pressing issues such as defending Great Britain, than ensuring the security of a distant colony.
What was so nice about this biography was it dispelled all the myths that surround the happy valley set and reveals a man of exceptional qualities. As with all geniuses though they tend to have a weakness and in the case of Erroll his weakness was the pursuit of women. This fact has tended to cloud sympathies towards the man with many people believing that he got what he deserved. Trzebinski gives sound evidence to the fact that Erroll was not just a womanising playboy figure, but that he was a figurehead for Kenyan society who cared deeply about the future of a country that he adored.
The first part of novel gives you details that White Mischief does not and for Erroll murder fanatics this is a must read book. The author is also successful in keeping the mystery of the murder and the mysticism of the time alive. What draws one to this amazing story is the fact that it is still an unsolved murder and the book does not ruin one's wonderment of what really happened on the Ngong road at 3pm, Friday 24th January 1941.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RedGala on 16 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone who has read "white mischief" by james fox ,would be interested in this book, this gives another side Joss Hay the murder victim, who was portrayed as a "bounder" and a womanizer and lounge lizard in most other books on the subject. The book starts of slowly and spend a lot of time telling us about the family history of the Errolls, not surprisingly this was written with the cooperation of his family who obviously were agrieved by the besmirching of the family name.This shows that Lord Erroll was actually a very hard worker and involved in lots of planning and commitees. When the second world war broke out ,the author has a theory the murder was a political assassination due to the Lord's war work. However as with many of the theories there can be no concrete proof of this , documents were found to be missing, people in the know have passed away many years ago, secret agents went under code names and obviously no one knew they were secret agents ! The theory is plausible but so are many of the others who also claim to have credible witnesses, so the mystery in my mind remains and we are now never going to find the killer, or is it just simply yes it was the husband of his last mistress. if you are interested in Britains presence in kenya this gives a good background and if you are interested in the murder gives a valid theory.
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