Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, March 30, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: “PETROL SHORTAGE!”

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover AND the cover is now an online puzzle. Go to http://www.allstarpuzzles.com/picture/index.html and click on “It’s A Mystery” (if you are reading this as an archived article and the puzzle title doesn’t show, then it has been archived. Go to the bottom of that page and click on puzzle 2221)



In Jade’s latest mystery adventure, The Leopard’s Prey, Nairobi is having a petrol shortage. The East African Standard, another Nairobi newspaper, reported on this on March 27, 1920. The “Honorable Secretary of the East African Automobile Association” spoke on the problem. He said that the Provincial Commissioner of Nairobi predicted the shortage would become worse with “still more drastic” regulations next month.



In fact, “no one living within three miles of the centre of Nairobi will have any petrol issued to him at all.” Apparently such people were expected to take the rickshaws, walk, or bicycle to their businesses and clubs.

People living outside of the three mile zone would receive: “motor cars – one case. Motor cycles – one tin.”

Garages and industrial users of petrol would receive an allotment according to their “absolute urgency.”

NEXT WEEK: A Kikuyu Murder

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com and follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, March 23, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: “1920 LEOPARDS!”

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.

In Jade’s latest mystery adventure, The Leopard’s Prey, Jade is helping to capture 2 leopards for a zoo in order to prevent them from being shot. In the story, the leopard in question had tried to catch a dog in one of Nairobi’s suburbs. The story line had a premise. In May 22, 1920, The Leader of British East Africa ran a short feature on a leopard near Mbagathi, about 20 km from Nairobi.

A “big dog” that lived near the local slaughter house was missing. When it’s “carcass” was found “slung high up in the forked branch of a tree,” it was assumed that a leopard had carried it off and stored it out of reach of hyenas “until such time as the leopard felt an empty void in his innards.” A trap was set by building a thorn fence around the tree with one small entrance inside. But entering through that entrance would trip a gun trap. The trap worked. When the leopard returned one night, it was shot and killed.

What amazed everyone was that the dog’s body was nearly as large as the leopard. How the cat managed to climb the tree with that large a carcass was astonishing.

NEXT WEEK: More Kenya Colony Fun Facts

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, all available in trade paperback.. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com and follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: “1920 FORENSICS AND THE RUIRU MURDERS”

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.

This blog is appearing on Sunday March 15 as I’ll be on the road on Monday. BOOK TOUR

The conclusion of the Ruiru flume murder was hardly satisfactory: no one convicted, charges dropped due to a questionable witness. What happened to examining the murder weapon for prints?

Fingerprinting was not only possible in 1920, it was being used in England. It should have been used in the colony. Check the iron pipe for prints, match them against the suspects, clear them or add to the evidence against them. Of course, prints on a murder weapon that happens to be lying around the flume is not enough to convict. The accused could always claim he’d moved that pipe out of the way two days ago or used it to lever a wheel open. But finding his prints would have added to the eyewitnesses claims.

The modern observer might wonder if fingerprinting was actually in use in the Kenya colony (still the British East Africa Protectorate at the time of this murder). The answer is yes! Every native (Kikuyu or Wakamba) was fingerprinted for identification and made to carry that document along with work papers in a metal cylinder the size of a shotgun shell which was worn around the neck. These kipande (work documents) had to be with them at all times or they would be fined or imprisoned.

So with all that fingerprinting capability, why was there no discussion of getting prints off of the murder weapon?

Another point of interest was the blood found on a door and a coat. The doctor said it was blood, but that he could not tell what animal it came from. Actually, by 1920, this was possible, providing you had a supply of rabbits which you injected with other bloods and collected the serum after (remember the old pregnancy test: “the rabbit died”). It seems that the colony didn’t have those capabilities yet.

Readers of the Jade del Cameron series will note that I updated the Nairobi police department by July 1920 in Jade’s adventure: The Leopard’s Prey. Not only does the inspector use fingerprints, his medical examiner has a goodly collection of those rabbit serums to test some blood samples.

NEXT WEEK: More Kenya Colony Fun Facts

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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Monday, March 09, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS: “THE 1920 RUIRU MURDERS - CONCLUSION"

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.

The murder of Ruiru flume gateman Ahmed Bbai at the flumes took place in mid-February, 1920. For the next week, the Nairobi newspapers reported on the crime, the evidence, and the eventual arrests; first of Mr. Moorag and Mr. Kulu Khanzi. Stains like blood had been found on their pants, turbans, on a knife, and on the door of their room. Dr. A. C. Birch, Government Analyst reported on the blood stains coats and on the iron bar thought to be the murder weapon. He “had no doubt that the stains on both articles were blood stains which he could only say were ‘recent’.” He could not say what kind of blood caused the stain.

Shortly afterwards, another flume employee, Mr. Sabban Mooraj told the police that a Goan named Mr. Marishu Desa as the murderer. Mr. Desa had recently been promoted to flume switchboard operator. The March 20, 1920 issue of The Leader of British East Africa reported on the inquest in which a tale emerged of two men (accused and deceased) who did not like each other. Mooraj claimed he witnessed a fight between them on the night of the murder. He said that Desa had told him to shut the water to one of the gates (the crime scene) and that soon afterwards, the victim came up to see what was the matter. Mooraj said that Desa told him not to tell anyone or he (Mooraj) would be killed next. The case was remitted to the High Court. Then nothing more was said about the topic until May 22, 1920 when the papers covered the trial.

As Judge Sheridan presided, testimony was given by sub assistant surgeon Sukram Das who examined the deceased, by European Constable Ridgeway who had examined the crime scene, and by Mr. Holmes, resident engineer in charge of the electric plant at Ruiru. Constables spoke of finding a blood stained knife in a sugar canister only to learn that the stain was vegetable in nature and it didn’t matter much since the knife wasn’t the murder weapon to begin with. The bloody door to Mooraj’s apartment seemed to be splashed onto the door and was taken to police headquarters for examination. Mooraj claimed it was “placed there by foul play.”

Then, after devoting so much space to this final trial, The Leader ended this story with a very unsatisfying

followed by “In the afternoon the accused was acquitted on the finding of the magistrate and assessors that the evidence of Mooraj was not to be trusted. Owing to the exceptional pressure upon our space, we were unable to publish the remainder of the evidence.”

Nothing more ever appeared in the papers regarding this murder.

ALL IMAGES SHOWN HERE ARE CREDITED TO THE LEADER OF BRITISH EAST AFRICA

NEXT WEEK: A brief discussion of 1920 forensics

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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Monday, March 02, 2009

NAIROBI NEWS FEBRUARY 28, 1920: “THE RUIRU MURDERS PART 2”

NOTE: The Leopard’s Prey is NOW available in hardcover.

The Ruiru flumes, as noted in the last entry, was the site of a murder in February, 1920. The victim, an Indian man who worked at the flumes, was found in the water as if he’d fallen, hit his head, and drowned. But blood on the steps and a murder weapon told a different tale. The victim weighed “12 stone” (168 pounds) so it was surmised that more than one man was involved in dragging him up the steps after killing him. In fact, very shortly after, two Indian men who shared a room at Ruiru were arrested and the police were heading for Nairobi in pursuit of a third man. These men had turned off the water to the first flume in order to bring their victim out to investigate.


According to the special correspondent for The Leader of British East Africa, the evidence against the men arrested at Ruiru took the form of blood-stained clothing and blood on their door. The deceased was of a different caste from the arrested men which “may be the explanation of the ferocity of the attack.” Gambling was suggested as the motive. An inquest was held at the scene of the crime. European constable R. Ridgway, of Ruiru, was the investigating officer and the medical officer came from Kiambu.

ALL IMAGES SHOWN HERE ARE CREDITED TO THE LEADER OF BRITISH EAST AFRICA

NEXT WEEK: The conclusion.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK. The fourth book The Leopard’s Prey, IS available in hardcover. For more information, visit the website: www.suzannearruda.com

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