Saturday, 7 July 2012

WHITE MISCHIEF – James Fox, 1983

Sometimes I read a book which sets me off on a whole new voyage. This is one of those.

I found it in a charity shop earlier in the year, remembered it was made into a film starring Charles Dance and thought I’d give it a go at some point.
I read it at the start of June and was thoroughly captivated. Further research (inspired by this book) has enlightened me that, although attempting to be a bona fide expose of an unsolved murder, it is, in itself, full of inaccuracies, or disputed opinions.
There are, it seems, as many theories about the murder of Lord Erroll as there are about the murder of Mary Kelly. But just who is Jack the Ripper here? Is it male or female? Are there one or two, or three (or a combination of) assassins? Is it politically or morally motivated or a crime of passion? This book gives one solution but hints at others.

White Mischief chronicles the lives of the residents of Kenya’s so-named Happy Valley in the years before and during World War II. It has been largely criticised for playing up the debauched lifestyle of the inhabitants of a few of the farms, who careless of the native inhabitants claimed the land for themselves and treated life as one long party. Many of the original pioneers, of course, toiled long and hard to create coffee plantations from barren soil although the repercussions of who owned that barren soil still rumble on today.

It is the deliciously depraved cast of characters which makes this so exciting. Each one is morally bankrupt, despicably behaved and irredeemably awful. They make this book hard to put down.

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