The true story of the life and mysterious murder of the most talked-about and glamorous member of Kenya’ s notorious Happy Valley set.
Since Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll, was discovered dead in his car with a bullet through his head just outside Nairobi in 1941, speculation has not ceased as to the culprit and motive for his murder. The authorities seemed satisfied with the highly sensationalised trial of the only suspect, Jock Broughton, the cuckolded husband of Erroll’s last lover, Diana. A not-guilty verdict was returned after a baffling display of confusing evidence and clumsy police work. Trzebinski, who has lived in Kenya for 30 years, was not satisfied with the conflicting gossip on the case, none of whose evidence adds up, including that of the celebrated White Mischief by James Fox. In this gripping evocation of a glamorous, decadent and sinister life, Trzebinski uses her renowned biographer’s skill to unlock the mystique surrounding the man, and the mystery enveloping his death. Her investigations lead her to astonishing conclusions about the true motive for his murder and a conspiracy of confusion that finds its source in Whitehall’s War Office.
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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 TaylorReview:
'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
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Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2019. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780007306978 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0981146