From Publishers Weekly
Please note: the ebook edition does not include photos that originally appeared in the printed book.
The 1941 fatal shooting of British earl Joss Erroll in Kenya made headlines worldwide (and was the subject of the book and movie White Mischief). A cuckolded husband was acquitted, and now Kenyan-born former oil executive Spicer intriguingly fingers his late mother™s friend, Countess Alice de Janzé, Joss™s discarded mistress. Alice™s complicated and violent love life was possibly attributable to bipolar disorder and to abandonment by her father, a self-made American millionaire, when Alice was 13. Alice married a French count, Frédéric de Janzé, and to escape the stuffy confines of French society, the couple spent much of their time in Kenya. There Alice had two love affairs that, according to Spicer, goaded Alice to violence: she made a botched murder-suicide attempt in 1927 when English aristocrat Raymund de Trafford rejected her, yet they married in 1932 (Alice had already left her husband). Alice had also begun a two-decade-long liaison with Joss. Though Joss had many enemies, Spicer posits that Alice killed Joss, and months later, at age 42, committed suicide, hoping they would be reunited in the afterlife. The author™s depiction of the unstable heiress and her milieu of wealthy expatriates cavorting in the Kenyan highlands is engrossing. 8 pages of b&w photos.
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Kenya's notorious “Happy Valley” set flourished during the twenties and thirties, providing enough scandalous fodder to fuel numerous books and movies. The Kenyan-born Spicer takes a leaf from Frances Osborne's The Bolter: Idina Sackville—the Woman Who Scandalized 1920s Society and Became White Mischief's Infamous Seductress (2009) by chronicling the checkered life of Alice de Janzé, another fascinating, if twisted, resident of Happy Valley. Focusing on the unsolved murder of the wickedly handsome Joss Hay, Lord Erroll in 1941, he alleges that Alice, a fading American glamour girl with a penchant for titled aristos, actually shot Erroll in a fit of insanely jealous pique. Basing his theory on the thinnest of evidence—gossip, hearsay, and a letter of confession from Alice that he has never actually seen—he nevertheless paints an intriguing portrait of a thoroughly debauched social circle. Recommend this speculative true-crime scenario to readers prepared to reconcile simultaneous feelings of intrigue and antipathy. --Margaret Flanagan
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