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on 10 September 2003
This book is an absolute eye-opener for those who are keen on learning more about colonial Africa. To read how the upper class settlers behaved and lived some 60 years ago is definitely stunning in it's vulgarity. This you do not usually read about! But wait, there's even more: it's also a first class detective story. Not the usual John Grisham kind, but factional. Deep investigative work. Autobiographical. I'll gladly admit I read it all in one weekend and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Buy it!
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on 25 June 2001
Fox's account of the decadent life and premature death of Josslyn Hay, Lord Erroll, makes fascinating reading, particularly if one has an interest in colonial Africa. While not necessarily the most flowing account of a complicated situation, it shed useful light on the mystery of Lord Erroll's death. Anyone who is interested in the case should also read "The Life and Death of Lord Erroll" by Errol Trzebinski, which puts a completely new spin on the mystery and contradicts the conclusions reached by Fox.
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on 17 January 1999
I found this book of particular interest since I lived in Kenya briefly, and am familiar with many of the locations mentioned. Even for those who have never been to Africa, this book is a definite page turner, especially since it is fact, not fiction.
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on 20 February 2012
This article was originally a newspaper article written by 2 journalists who were intrigued by the case of the murder of The Earl of Erroll in Kenya in the 40's it was never solved and highlighted the lifestyle of rich ex-pats living in Kenya while the rest of England struggled. The Earl of Erroll was a womanizer and had many affairs he was in the middle of an affair with the wife of Jock Broughton when he was murdered. Jock was accused but acquitted, the trial and evidence was a bit of a farce and no one was ever tried for his murder, although rumours of letters, found murder weapons, ex-girlfriends and assassination by British Agents all persist, but no hard evidence has ever been found. The book comes down on the side Jock Broughton being the murderer and he was supposed to have confessed to a couple of people. The difficulty was in 1969 when the article started many of the main characters had passed away and with them all the secrets. James Fox and Cyril Connelly left no stone unturned and tried to meet everyone connected with the case. He visited Kenya again in the late 70's early 80's and managed to get an interview with Diana Broughton ( Errolls mistress) she had rose through a series of marriages to become one of the most powerful and rich white women in Kenya at this time. She did not throw any light on the murder but was an interesting character. She died in 1987 and now all the people connected with this strange case have long passed away we will never know the truth and it will remain a mystery of our time.
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on 1 April 2014
While this is a very good read, after reading around the 'Happy Valley Set' (ie 'The Bolter' 'The Temptress') and watching the film, I really was convinced for a while that the jealousy/love/hate angle was the motive behind the killing of Lord Errol. But, after reading an excellent book published in 2000 and available on Amazon, I am now convinced that nobody in the Happy Valley Set was responsible. The book is quite simply called 'The Life and Death Of Lord Errol' by Errol Trzebinski and I recommend that anyone who wishes to get to the truth of the matter should read this without delay. It not only details all the 'goings on' in and around the set but Joss Errol's political beliefs and it was the latter, or rather what he was intending to do with them, that got him killed.
Without wishing to give too much away, I would draw the reader's attention to 'The Sallyport Papers' within this book which are far too detailed to be fakes and I believe this is the real way in which Joss was killed. PLEASE PLEASE buy this book if you wish to know about REAL intrigue at the heart of the establishment. As for White Mischief, Fox has done an admirable job with what he had available to him at the time and certainly paints an evocative picture of the settlers and the various personalities that Joss surrounded himself with at the time.
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on 12 May 2013
LORD ERROLL-a prominent figure of the KENYA high Society before World War 2 -was murdered in January 1941 in very strange circumstances and his would be murderer LORD BROUGHTON -cuckood husband of his lover DIANA BROUGHTON -acquitted after a bungled up trial .This book presents JOSSLYN HAYS-LORD ERROLL -under a much to unflattering light -he was not such a bad man as described .Clever witty ,charming ,very well educated (ETON ), very good looking ,he certnly enjoyed the "favors " of most pretty Ladies of the time .But he was assasinated for other reasons than asserted ,probably by the British Secret Servces -MI 5,as uncovered in the far superior and documented book by ERROL TRZEBINSKI "THE LIFE AND DEATH OF LORD ERROLL " .
We shall probably never have acccess to the files of MI 5 to know the truth and this is a pity .
ENGLAND was hopelessly outgunned by GERMANY in 1940 and we know now that the partisans of a peace with HITLER were far more numerous than has been said ,the decision to continue the war was played on a dice ,and the far too bellicose CHURCHILL snatched the final decision .
This proves now to have been a monumental error ,because who dominates today EUROPE :mighty GERMANY !!!
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Compelling as any thriller, this painstakingly researched and detailed account of the life and death of Josslyn Hay, Lord Erroll, in Kenya’s Happy Valley, offers the reader a window into the often decadent world of the colonial settlers. It’s a story of adultery, adventure, scandal, intrigue and decadence – and ultimately tragedy.
When Hay was murdered in 1941, the crime remained unsolved. In 1969 Cyril Connolly and James Fox began researching the murder for a newspaper article. Fox continued with the investigation after Connolly’s death. With the publication of White Mischief, it seemed that at last all the questions had been answered, but in fact controversy and speculation remain. Clearly and succinctly told, the book is an absorbing read. The first part gives the background, and brings to life the larger-than-life characters who lived and worked and played in the Happy Valley, and the second chronicles Fox’s investigation. It’s a truly gripping tale, shedding light on the lives and attitudes of the settlers, and how they could pretty much rule their little corner of the world and act in ways that still have the power to shock.
This is a gripping book from beginning to end, and I very much recommend it.
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on 30 July 2012
When one has seen the film of the book it's almost natural that one should want to read the original book, making it equally natural for one to want to see the film again and increase one's original enjoyment of it. I can thoroughly recommend both.
In his introduction James Fox remarks interestingly 'There are also some detours along the route which seemed too good to be left out.' Such detours produce some fascinating detail, making the book all the more readable.
The fact that seven of the protagonists were educated (in the general sense of the word) at Eton and two at Harrow should serve as a good recommendation for Winchester.
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on 30 September 2014
I started this book with no idea that it was factual as I'd assumed,. from watching the film, that the story was a fictional whodunnit (red face). Once I'd got used to the idea that I was reading about an actual historical crime the story took on a whole new dimension and I read on with interest
The first half of the book is taken up with an account of the characters and events surrounding the murder of Lord Erroll. The second half details the back-tracking investigations into the murder - which was by then a 'cold case' - by the two journalists James Fox and Cyril Connolly.
There were many members of the hedonistic Kenyan 'Jet Set' surrounding the murder victim and the main suspect(s) and the author mentions a great many of them, so that at times I found it hard work keeping track of who was whom, and what was his/her relationship with X, Y or Z. This wasn't made any easier by the fact that the author reproduces the notes that he and Connolly wrote during their investigations which refer to the main players only by their initials. However, there is a very useful 'Cast Of Characters' thoughtfully included at the end of the book, which helps somewhat.
I would describe this book as interesting more than enthralling, written competently rather than brilliuantly, and readable as opposed to gripping. There's no doubt that Fox put in an admirable amount of work on the research and the reader is left feeling that his facts are accurate if perhaps not quite as conclusive as the author himself believes. Certainly worth reading if you've any interest in the case or the period.
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on 12 December 2015
I bought this book years ago but it is such a fascinating read I find I re read it from time to time. James Fox has a brilliant gift of bringing each character to life and gives a wonderful account of the people who may or may not have been involved in the murder. Since the publication I have read other accounts : Errol Trzebinski, Juliet Barnes and even managed to read a copy of the one written by Leda Farrant, who maintained that Diana killed Errol. However for some reason I still find "White Mischief" the best book on the subject. Perhaps it is because there still isn't a real sense of closure of the case. When visiting Karen Blixen's house from Nairobi you pass the spot where the murder took place, below the church, and it is still hard to work out which theory is the correct one as to who did the murder. For me this is a timeless book that is well worth the read because it records the lifestyle of a group of people, which in modern terms is almost unbelievable and shocking. Impossible to put down. A great read
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