A dark tale

Death in Kenya by M.M. Kaye (previously published as It's later than you think, and not to be confused with Michael A. Hiltzik's A Death in Kenya) is set in the dying days of colonialism in Kenya in the 1950s. Kaye, herself the wife of a British army officer, lived in Kenya during the Mau Mau insurgency, and there is a feeling of verisimilitude about the novel. As Kaye herself says - all the views of the characters re colonialism and the end of British rule in Kenya were taken from comments that she heard during her time in Africa.

I always enjoy Kaye's thrillers, and this is one of her best. Great setting, completely unexpected murderer and red herrings aplenty. The heroine, Victoria Caryll, is delighted to be asked by her aunt, following her mother's death, to return to Kenya, where she was born, to help run her aunt's estate, Flamingo. The only cloud on the horizon is the presence of Eden de Brett, her cousin and former fiance, who had broken the engagement off with very little explanation, and is now married to Alice. However when Victoria arrives in Kenya, she discovers that events have taken a sinister turn. Flamingo has been plagued by a series of strange happenings culminating in the brutal death of Alice. The white settlers are now feeling very unsettled, and are hoping that the blame can be fixed on a native Kenyan, the mysterious General Africa, a stalwart of the Mau Mau campaign, but it appears that the blame lies rather closer to home...

This is a very clever thriller, twisting and turning brilliantly. It also has a great atmosphere, Kaye has a real feel for the period and there is a sinister undercurrent that runs convincingly throughout the book. If you've never read any of Kaye's thrillers, this is a great place to start.


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