DEATH IN KENYA by M. M. Kaye
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DEATH IN KENYA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As reported in the review of Death in Zanzibar (p. 200), these slight mystery/romances were originally published in England in the late 1950s. It now appears--belatedly, thanks to misleading publisher information--that both novels were in fact also published in America back then: Death in Zanzibar was House of Shade; Death in Kenya was Later Than You Think by Mollie Hamilton; both were brought out by Coward, McCann. In any case, Kenya is slightly better than Zanzibar--without the latter's lame attempts at comedy. Formula orphan Victoria Caryll comes to Kenya just after the Mau Mau uprising to be secretary to her Aunt Em, an old but tough estate-owner. Just as Victoria arrives, however, murder strikes: Alice, the wife of Em's grandson Eden (whom Victoria loved years ago), is knifed in the garden. Whodunit? Was it a leftover Mau Mau terrorist? Was it a young neighbor who had a crush on Alice? Was it Eden? Or was it--as a soon-dead Kikuyu servant claims--Aunt Em herself? (Or someone dressed as her, perhaps?) Well, while policeman Greg Gilbert sleuths talkily, another murder ensues, with a faked snakebite; Victoria is romanced by her now-widowered old flame; a second suitor seems, however, to suit her better. And there's the obligatory confrontation between Had-I-But-Known heroine and unsurprising Culprit. . . followed by the customary explanations. When it was first published in 1958, supreme mystery-critic Anthony Boucher found this a ""routine mystery-romance"" enlivened by the tense colonial setting, Now, however, Kaye's portrait of Kenya, if occasionally evocative, seems awfully naive. So, as with Death in Zanzibar, what remains is a dated, run-of-the-mill genre item--though Zanzibar has recently appeared on a best-seller list, proving once again that byline is more saleable than quality these days.

Pub Date: July 28th, 1983
ISBN: 0312245610
Publisher: St. Martin's