Today Rose Hardie is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Rhino Charge, the latest novel in the Kenya Kanga mystery series.
Welcome, Rose. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
Hi, I’m Rose Hardie although I’m known as ‘Mama Rose’ in the Kenya Kanga Mystery series and in my local community.
Rhino Charge involves my third investigation. I thought I was taking a break, from my part-time role as a community vet, to officiate at the Rhino Charge event and I didn’t expect to get caught up in another murder.
The Rhino Charge event is a 4×4 off-road team fundraising competition and this year it was held in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve.
I’ve attended the event for many years with my husband Craig, and I was disappointed that this time he was too ill to accompany me. But a young friend, Chloe Collins, volunteered to join me as an official.
Another friend, Thabiti, a young African man, had also been offered a place in one of the teams, as a mechanic, so I was excited to see how he fared.
Unfortunately, it all went wrong and during the event and Thabiti’s driver, and team captain, was injured when his vehicle crashed. He later died.
When it looked like Thabiti was going to be blamed for the driver’s death myself and Chloe, along with some other friends at the event, set out to clear his name. This we did, but with rather distressing results. It amazes me that even at my age—65 if you must know—I’m still learning about human nature.
As I said, this was my third case. I initially became involved in a murder investigation when Thabiti asked me to help solve his mother’s death. She had been a good friend of mine although something happened which drove us apart. I wish we could have resolved matters properly before she died. Anyway, we solved that case and it was written up in Fowl Murder.
My second case is documented in Tusk Justice, the second book in the Kenya Kanga Mystery series. It occurred during a wildlife conference and summit about protecting African elephants. One of the principle speakers was stabbed to death. I helped a young police constable solve that particular crime as her boss, Commissioner Akida, was tied up in Nairobi.
I hope I can take a break from solving crimes for a while as I want to spend some more time with Craig, who really isn’t very well.
Does the writer control what happens in the story or do you get a say too?
I know Victoria struggled with writing this story. Since she finished Tusk Justice, she launched the series, home-schooled her children, and moved house and country, from the UK to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The story involves a lot of characters and two rival Rhino Charge teams so getting them all straight in her head, and clearly written onto paper, took some time and a lot of revision. Once she knew where the story was heading, I was able to have my say on the story details and how it evolved.
How did you evolve as the main character?
It was during my first investigation into the death of Thabiti’s mother, Aisha. Thabiti is a nervous young man and he finds it very hard to approach people, particularly strangers, to speak to them and ask questions. I was happy to do this and we solved his mother’s murder.
I have to admit, I’m rather nosy and I have been accused of listening into other people’s conversations. But I love to work out why people do what they do and piece together snippets of seemingly meaningless or unimportant information.
As for the cases is Tusk Justice and Rhino Charge, I just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time and was drawn into the mysteries.
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
I’m very lucky to have many great characters to share my story with, and we are becoming a competent detective team.
There are Chloe and Thabiti, who I’ve already mentioned. Chloe is rather glamourous and new to Kenya. She finds our way of life rather baffling, but is determined to become part of the local community. Thabiti had an issue at university and can’t decide whether or not to return. He is becoming friendly with a young Indian girl, Marina, and hopefully the two of them can determine what to do with their lives.
Then there is my ‘guardian angel’, Sam Mwamba. He is an officer in the Kenya Wildlife Service who works for Kenya’s anti-poaching unit. I understand he does a lot of undercover work, but he always seems to turn up when there’s trouble brewing. He has a clever and attractive girlfriend, Constable Wachira, who helped me solve the case in Tusk Justice.
In my hometown of Nanyuki there is Dr Emma who, as the only qualified vet, is technically my boss. I help her with her many and varied animal patients.
Of course, I mustn’t forget my husband Craig, and what he lacks in mobility, he provides in common sense and support. We were reunited with our son Chris in Tusk Justice, but he has returned to the UK. I hope he will visit again soon.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Rhino Charge is set in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Visitors flock to it in the hope of witnessing a herd of wildebeest cross the Mara River without being snapped up by waiting crocodiles.
The Mara is an area of savannah wilderness in the south-west corner of Kenya. It borders Tanzania where it joins the much larger Serengeti National Park.
Unlike most designated wildlife areas in Kenya, the Mara is not a National Park so it is not overseen by the Kenya Wildlife Service. At its cores is the Mara triangle, which is run as a non-profit organisation working with Maasai communities and local government. Surrounding it are private conservancies where lodges and safari companies lease land from Maasai tribes. It is one of these conservancies that Rhino Charge is set.
The beauty of the Mara, and the number and diversity of its animals, is under threat by pressure from the ever increasing human population on its borders. Whilst the conservancies enforce strict grazing regimes, with their Maasai landowners, in the central Mara reserve thousands of cattle illegally enter at night.
The result is overgrazing, which leads to a reduction in wildlife numbers. In addition, tribesmen have been known to retaliate against predators of their cattle. Two of the lion stars of the BBC Documentary Big Cat Diary were poisoned and died. The future of the area hangs in the balance.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
If you like reading books to escape to exotic locations, and enjoy learning about different cultures and ways of life, then I believe you will enjoy the Kenya Kanga Mystery series.
Here are what other readers have said about Rhino Charge:
“A murder mystery with a lot of wonderful characters and a can’t put down plot.” ✭✭✭✭✭ Goodreads Reviewer
“This is an outstanding book in an already excellent series.” ✭✭✭✭✭ BookBub Reviewer
““I just love her books! I really like to take my time and savour every words. A wonderful mystery with real characters, the descriptive scenes it’s like being there.” ✭✭✭✭✭ Goodreads Reviewer
Thank you for answering my questions, Rose, and good luck to you and your author, Victoria Tait, with Rhino Charge, the latest book in the Kenya Kanga mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Victoria Tait: Victoria is the author of the enchanting Kenya Kanga Mystery series. She’s drawn on her 8 years of experience living in rural Kenya, with her family, to write vivid and evocative descriptions. Her readers feel the heat, taste the dryness, and smell the dust of Africa. Her elderly amateur sleuth, “Mama Rose” Hardie is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple reincarnated and living in Kenya.
Like all good military wives, Victoria follows the beat of the drum and has recently moved to war-scarred Sarajevo in Bosnia. She has two fast growing teenage boys. She enjoys horse riding and mountain biking but is apprehensive about learning to ski. Victoria is looking forward to the sun, sand, and seafood of neighbouring Croatia when the world returns to normal.