Authors and Book Reviews  

April 10 - 17, 2000


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Erroll's murder managed to
baffle a whole police team


Coastweek - - My initial commitment to the Erroll biography began far away from Kenya's Rift Valley, five years ago in London at 'Julie's Bar', when like the white rabbit in 'Alice in Wonderland', I was running late for a dinner appointment, with the young editor, Emma Pery, who had worked on my last biography, "The Lives of Beryl Markham", months before.

This was a social occasion and while I am notoriously punctual, that evening I was almost an hour late, having spent the day in Haywards Heath.

I had been interviewing an ex-policeman, Cohn Imray and was so preoccupied with what I had absent-mindedly boarded a slow train back to Victoria.

My head was buzzing with information of names and places many of which would prove invaluable in days to come when Emma and I were working on the final mss. but that was far away in a future which neither of us envisaged that evening.

Using E.M. Forster's premise "Only connect" I found myself confiding to Emma all that I had discovered since Rodwell had talked to me about Idina, and how with what I had been told that day in Hayward's Heath already I suspected that there had been a massive cover up.

Yet, for the life of me, I could not begin to imagine why; who on earth would want to bump off a worthless playboy ?

Why had Imray told me how he had been interviewed as a possible recruit for M.I.5 or M.I.6 after his stint in Kenya, when allegedly he had become obsessed with Erroll murder, while stationed there in the late Forties.

Even beforehand, while working on the Gold Coast, he had long discussions with Waiter Harragin, prosecuting for the Crown during the Broughton trial and to Arthur Poppy, the inspector who had arrested Broughton.

Imray had heard that a Somali had been hired to do the killing but also that a woman had pulled the trigger.

By now I suspected that whether the assassin was a man or woman, white or black, this killing had been carried out in cold blood.

As I researched, that suspicion only gained credence as each clue implied that Erroll's murderer had not only been ruthless but highly organised, managing to baffle a whole police-team carrying out the investigation.

While re-reading "White Mischief" I was struck by the sloppy way in which the initial investigation had been carried out.

This was why I travelled to Hayward's Heath to cross-question Cohn Imray.

However a key piece evidence was yet to come.

This would be presented to me by Roddy Rodwell himself, virtually on my own doorstep at Mtwapa in Mombasa.

I had pestered him questions, and more questions after I learned from one of his articles that he had received an anonymous phone call following publication of a column:

"Deeper and Deeper goes the Happy Valley Mystery.




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