2016: 49. The Temptress


It was around 3:00 Am on January 24, 1941, when the body of Josslyn Hay, the earl of Erroll, was discovered lying curled up and facedown on the floor of his Buick car in Kenya, East Africa.

The Temptress: The Scandalous Life of Alice De Janze and the Mysterious Death of Lord Erroll, Paul Spicer

This was the best of the true crime book spree (at least so far, I have one left to go).  It tells the true story of  an American Heiress, Alice Silverthorne, who was born in Buffalo in 1899, and died in Kenya in 1942, having been through two husbands, a number of lovers, one attempted murder trial, and (if you believe the author’s theory), one successful murder.  Alice was a typical poor little rich girl - no parents and lots of money, who first married a French Count with whom she had two children (who she basically abandoned).  She was prone to depression so she and her count ran off to live in the Happy Valley in Kenya, a wild expat community filled with gorgeous scenery and wild aristocrats (note to self, read more about the Happy Valley).  There she fell in love with a number of men, left her husband, tried to shoot one lover, etc., etc.

It’s all delightfully scandalous, and while Alice is obviously a hot mess, you understand what got her where she was (mental health issues, abandonment issues).  There was a movie about the underlying murder called White Mischief, which I’d sort of love to see, even though it has a different theory about who killed Lord Erroll.  I’m not really convinced Alice did it, but Spicer makes a decent case, and it’s always fun to read about historical murder and scandal.  If you’ve interest in those topics, you’d like this one.  And old crazy Alice could be a reasonably interesting topic for a biopic - at least something on PBS.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017