Welcome to the Self-Rescue Princess, Rosie. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life.
Life’s become rather complicated. My husband, Craig, and I moved to Nanyuki, a small market town three hours north of Nairobi, when he retired as a farm manager. We expected a peaceful life: Craig enjoys his crossword puzzles and I still work as a community vet, treating animals and wildlife in Nanyuki, and the surrounding area known as Laikipia.
That all changed when my old schoolfriend, Aisha Onyango returned. She was looking into a case I hoped would remain in the past, but before we could discuss it in detail she was killed. Our local Police Commissioner was told by the ‘powers-that-be’ in Nairobi to close the case.
I was angry that there would be no justice for a friend who had dedicated her life to fighting corruption, and promoting her vision of Kenya, with equality and economic prosperity for all.
Aisha’s son, Thabiti has persuaded me to help him find his mother’s killer. He called in a debt I owed his mother. She intervened and saved me from going to prison for shooting a poacher, the case which I thought was dead and buried.
So here I am, in my mid-60’s investigating the murder of an influential lawyer, anti-corruption advocate….and my long lost friend.
What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?
My conscience. It’s not right that someone who spent her whole life fighting injustice and corruption in Kenya, should be killed and her assailant allowed to escape punishment. As the bible says in Psalms, ‘blessed are those that act justly, who always do what is right’.
I try to do what is right, to treat people kindly and fairly so that my conscience is clear and I have peace of mind. The trouble is I don’t…have peace of mind. I mentioned the case in which I shot a poacher. He was a young man and I was acting in self-defense, but I still took a life and that is a sin. One I cannot justify or seek repentance for. So if this investigation is dangerous and I am injured or killed? Perhaps that is the justice I deserve. If I can help Thabiti discover who killed his mother then maybe I can begin to seek atonement for what I did.
Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?
At my age certainly not. Sure we all do our bit and there have been occasions where I have administered my own judgment and punishment. I’m afraid our police and justice system in Kenya cannot always be relied upon. A culprit may languish for months in jail without a trial and sometimes the wrong person, such as the culprit’s wife, might be thrown into prison for her husband’s misdeeds.
There is so much that needs doing to help the community that I prefer a practical and useful sentence, such as digging latrines or a new vegetable patch for my local church’s orphanage. Generally the wrongdoers are not career criminals, just someone trying to improve their way of life, or feed and clothe their family.
Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?
I wouldn’t call my work a career. I began treating injured animals in the local community 40 years ago and over time my experience, expertise and following have grown. So has my workload. I get paid by the European farmers but the Africans can barely afford to pay for the medicines. For my time I am often giving a basket of vegetables, or a stallholder at the local market will put something aside she knows I will like. It’s kept us fed and to an extent clothed over the years.
My husband Craig is not happy that I’m running around Nanyuki looking for a dangerous killer. He knows how impulsive and headstrong I can be. At first he argued against my involvement but he understands why I feel compelled to help Thabiti. He has his own guilt from the shooting incident and also feels indebted to Aisha. I am afraid Craig is not well. He caught polio as a boy which damaged his left leg and left him with a limp. After all these years he’s developed a secondary complication and I think it’s causing him pain, although he won’t admit it. I’m sure he would prefer me to stay safely at home with him.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I’ve become rather less tolerant with age. Whilst there are those people who suffer through poverty, there are others who are lazy or selfish which I cannot abide. I value honesty, hard-work and resourcefulness.
I know Craig thinks me impulsive, and at times stubborn. I am not generous in monetary terms, as we barely seem to have enough ourselves, but I try to be with my time, and to help those who are really in need.
I think I’m becoming forgetful with age. I can never remember where I’ve put my glasses!
Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.
I’m no princess, more likely the ugly step mother…but I would prefer to be the fairy godmother. As for being strong and confident, it’s not always possible as life is not easy and sets us many challenges. We have to strive to do what is right, to act with a clear conscience as we judge ourselves, and as God will judge each of us when the time comes. I have done a great wrong. I took a man’s life so I do what I can to make amends by helping the innocent, and those who are less able or poor.
I survived some very difficult times, begging for a roof over our heads and with barely enough food to feed the family. This made me stronger but also more aware of other people’s struggles, especially here in Kenya. If I am strong now it is so I can assist those who are not.
If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?
I’m not one for popular music so I asked my younger friends Chloe, who recently arrived from the UK, and Thabiti. They suggested ‘Bright Side of the Road’ written and sung I believe by Van Morrison.
Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?
I shouldn’t say this but it’s rather exciting being involved in an investigation. Craig would not be happy with me but…
Readers can learn what Rose and her friends become involved in next by joining my mailing list and receiving a free novella, Grevy Danger.
Two deaths. No crime. For this determined sleuth the answers are not black and white.
When Rose joins an endangered zebra expedition, she’s shaken to her core when an injured girl she treats suddenly dies. And after another death days later, Rose can’t silence the alarm bells in her head that point to murder.
Blurb for Fowl Murder
A shooting on the savannah. A tragedy she’d rather forget. When past and present collide, will she survive to see her future?
Kenya, 2016. Semi-retired vet Rose Hardie just wants to enjoy her golden years and care for her disabled husband. But her peace of mind shatters when a forgotten confidant returns and reopens a case where Rose pulled the trigger. With her memories of a poacher’s shocking death flooding back, she barely catches her breath before her childhood friend is brutally murdered.
Braving blackmail and entrenched corruption, our tireless heroine dives headfirst into helping the victim’s son solve the crime. But when the lead suspect is killed, Rose’s plans for a peaceful life end up dead and buried…
As her own traumatic history unravels, can Rose catch a killer before she becomes the next victim?
Fowl Murder is the first book in the compelling Kenya Kanga Mystery series. If you like Agatha Christie and Agatha Raisin, determined heroines, unpredictable twists and turns, and vivid African settings, then you’ll love Victoria Tait’s pulse-pounding tale.
Buy Fowl Murder to solve a searing whodunit today!