A 1920s Murder at Castello Sessantanovo – The Suspects

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The Heiress

Lady Aster de Fleur

Her Background Story

When her mother and father perished in their first class cabin on board the féted Titanic’s maiden voyage, the stunningly beautiful Miss Aster de Fleur immediately inherited their multi-million dollar fortune made as globally famous art collectors.

Her exotic good looks and her extreme wealth captivated men from Nairobi to New York and she shamelessly flaunted her money and her charms enjoying the attention she created. A born party-girl with a penchant for strong cocktails, Miss Aster de Fleur bloomed in the decadent Shangri-La of Colonial Kenya.

She used her wealth to travel extensively continuing to collect art. She favoured European and Asian destinations mostly, but also spent time state side at her home in New York city.

Miss De Fleur was a well-connected, darling of the Art World and had a long list of famous friends including a complicated friendship with Woodrow Wilson the US President.

Her Relationship with the Victim

The Exotic American heiress first met Gusto Lollorosso and his companion Magritte on a Big Game shoot in Kenya’s Wanjohi Valley. Miss de Fleur lived in a house near to Lollorosso, where she (for a time) enjoyed the hospitality of professional hunter Lord Charles Parker-Southfrost.

It was Parker-Southfrost who introduced Miss de Fleur to Wanjohi Valley party set at the Lollorosso estate. She found the bohemian lifestyle exhilarating and inspiring and enjoyed socialising with the eclectic artistic entourage of Gusto’s admirers with whom she felt most at home.

The Military Man

Brigadier General ‘Bertie’ Roaghound D.S.O.

His Background Story

Bertie’s army career ended triumphantly after the Great War when he was mentioned in despatches by the commander-in-chief for his meritorious and distinguished service under fire.

Recognition of his heroism on the field of battle came for Bertie with a presentation of the Distinguished Service Order medal awarded for his gallant actions during the Battle of Cambrai, in Northern France.

Bertie is enormously proud of his contribution to the war effort and boasts constantly about his gallantry and his devotion to duty. He often recalls how he reorganised his battalion and rallied them towards the enemy, whilst under heavy shell and machine gun fire. Leading from the front he demonstrated courage and bravery and under his command the battalion commandeered the enemy ground which saw their retreat. Bertie often recalls that ‘the success of the operation was largely due to his courage and fine leadership.’

A keen weapons expert and the curator of an extensive private weapons collection, Bertie’s other passion is fine wines. His army career limited opportunities for him to marry but since retirement he is keen to engage in romance with a well-connected and energetic young lady with whom he can share his passion for ammunition and appreciation of fine wines.

Having been affected by mustard gas attacks in the trenches, he is often overcome with bouts of coughing which can cause some interruption amongst polite company.

DSO
The Distinguished Service Order medal

His Relationship with the Victim

Retired British Army Officer Bertie Roaghound became a regular visitor at the Castello Sessantanovo after the Great War where he sought out the more temperate climate of Italy to convalesce.

Bertie struck up a friendship with Gusto at a wine sampling of the vintage barrels in the cellars at Castello Sessantanovo. He has no interest in Art and is quite ignorant regarding Lollorosso’s artistic fame. However, something of a sommalier, the Brigadier does enjoy the fine wines that the Lollorosso Vineyards produce, as well as the intoxicating female company that Gusto keeps at Castello Sessantanovo.

Bertie’s army career brought him to the party scene of Castello Sessantanovo later than the other guests and he is certainly the newcomer to Gusto’s regular crowd of revellers. Not having been part of the Colonial scene in Kenya, Bertie is sometimes quite shocked and strait-laced at Gusto’s parties and sometimes needs a little persuasion to participate and relax.

The Artist’s Muse

Miss Magritte Francesca Margarita del Messé

Her Background Story

Very much a free spirit and rejecting social norms of the time, Magritte’s effervescent energy and spontaneously wild and non-conformist behaviour very much exceeded the social boundaries expected of ‘respectable’ women of the 1920’s period.

Liberally minded, Magritte likes to shock with her unconventional dress and ideas. She often poses nude for Gusto wearing only exquisite jewel designs. Her appearance at social gatherings is just as daring and she enjoys teasing with the values of modesty and decency with a risqué fashion style and her uninhibited exhibitionism.

Indeed, at their parties in Colonial Kenya, often Magritte would welcome Gusto’s guests to his hedonistic soirée’s from a large bathtub of black onyx, naked.

She once boasted ‘that there was nothing that she could not make any man do’, such was Magritte’s captivating beauty and persuasive charm.

Her Relationship with the Victim

Famed as the life force and the inspiration behind Artist Gusto’s creativity, Venetian Magritte is the celebrated Muse of Lollorosso’s Artistic Design Studio.

Captivated by her effervescence and vitality after a chance meeting in Venice, Gusto was instantly infatuated with Magritte’s Bohemian influence on his artistic designs and persuaded her to follow him to Colonial Kenya and then to Italy where she remained his primary Muse and enjoyed a hedonistic and decadent lifestyle in his company.

Gusto claims to have encouraged her liberal behaviour and boasted to have ‘freed her from the chains of womanhood’ – however Magritte herself was not as much under Gusto’s influence as he was of her.

It was anticipated by the guests at Gusto’s party that as his primary Muse, Magritte would be involved in the unveiling of the eagerly anticipated work of art which promised to be one of the artist’s most sensational and artistically provocative pieces

The Big Game Hunter

Lord Charles Parker-Southfrost (18th Duke of Marlborough)

His Background Story

Born into a titled family and extreme wealth, Lord Charles enjoyed a charmed existence becoming the 18th Duke of Marlborough at the age of 24 when his father died. He was educated at Eton and then went onto study the History of Art at Magdalene College, Cambridge and his young life was a haze of theatre, parties and music. His athletic stature and classical good looks attracted attention from both men and women alike.

His passion for gentlemanly outdoor pursuits grew and as well as hunting, included riding, fishing and shooting and these sports precipitated his interest in world travel, firearms and ultimately Big Game Hunting in Colonial India. His love of hunting and shooting lions and elephants had stocked Museums around the world with his magnificent specimens.

Lord Charles journeyed first to East Africa for a tiger hunting expedition and such was the success of the trip, he returned yearly to continue with his hunting exploits annually. When disaster struck during a particularly fearsome encounter with a jaguar, Lord Charles was wounded and this led to him eventually settling in Kenya where he founded the first golf course in Nairobi.

Firmly established as one of the founding members of the Kenyan party socialites, Lord Charles was always the first to accept any challenge, no matter what the consequences.

With his loudly animated tales of fierce beasts and foreign lands, Lord Charles dominates conversation recalling his shoots in Africa and Asia and the Big Game Animals he hunted. He draws gasps in polite society at his wildly imaginative and loudly animated tales of Big Game Hunts, each tale more sensational than the last.

His Relationship with the Victim

Having inherited with his Dukedom his father’s handsome looks as well as a substantial private art collection housed at his family seat of Marlborough Castle, Lord Charles was dependant upon the expertise of the Lollorosso Art Curators who assisted with the storage and maintenance of his father’s Marlborough Art Collection. Lord Charles himself had little interest in his late father’s beloved art collection. His father, the 17th Duke had been a long time supporter, friend and patron of the arts and he was keen to encourage his son’s friendship in Colonial Kenya with Gusto.

The Showgirl

Miss Violette Hortense

Her Background Story

The unexpected outcome of a passionate affair between a lady’s maid and the eldest son of the Parisian household in which she worked, Violette’s entry into the world only served to accelerate her mother’s swift exit from the household staff with a dismissal and no references.

Plunged into poverty with no regular income, Violette’s mother swiftly fell into an urban underworld in Montmatre where she became addicted to opiates. Her mother’s fixation on the drug made it her highest priority, and Violette grew up in a dirty poverty stricken environment, surviving on scraps of food she scavenged. Naturally, when Violette reached a certain age she was destined to follow her mother’s career working the streets, but her bright personality, striking good looks and tall slender frame caught the eye of the famous dancer Yvette Guilbert who brought Violette into the show to audition for the chorus.

Highly uneducated but fiercely determined to rise up from the sleazy streets of Montmatre, Violette worked hard to learn the dance steps required of a Moulin Rouge chorus girl. Her energy and passion for dancing and the exquisite perfume of youth that she exuded brought her to the table of Gusto Lollorosso who was enchanted by her charms and who invited her to join him in his own private artisan troupe and entourage.

Her Relationship with the Victim

Former French courtesan and sometime showgirl, Gusto picked Miss Violette himself from the chorus line during a visit to the Moulin Rouge to be a companion for his Muse Magritte.

Violette’s volatile relationship with Gusto was as passionately intense as it was stormy and tempestuous. It was a bittersweet union between them where she despised him and was besotted with him and adored him, all at the same time.

Violette truly worshipped Gusto and was ever grateful to him for selecting her from the line of dancing girls and uplifting her from a destined life of poverty. This helped her to accept that she was always a second choice in his entourage of beautiful people.

The Adventurer

Lord Leopold Hastings (18th Earl of Huntingdon)

His Background Story

A well travelled British adventurer and archaeologist Lord Leopold spent much of his early adulthood exploring Africa, Asia and the Middle East. He was a master of linguistics, having studied Languages at Oxford University where he excelled in Persian and Arabic.

Because of his extensive world travel and ability to learn languages, Lord Leopold had developed a most bizarre English accent, and a Colonial Indian undertone could sometimes be detected when he spoke. Lord Leopold believed in fully immersing himself into new cultures and had been heavily influenced by Sikhism during his time in India and sometimes wore a turban to social events.

Lord Leopold concealed his aristocratic heritage from many, preferring to be known plainly as ‘Leo’ in many social situations.

His passions lay in archaeology and mountaineering and memoirs of his expeditions and world travels were eagerly awaited by literary fans who enjoyed his stories of adventure, romance and fantasies in foreign lands.

His Relationship with the Victim

Lord Leopold’s travelling adventures took him whilst on safari to the Colonial Settlement in Kenya, where he first met Gusto Lollorosso and his harem of admirers. Fascinated by the hedonistic set of English aristocracy residing by the Wanjohi River flowing through Kenya’s highlands, Lord Leopold was enticed to stay, albeit briefly, with the crowd to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh, alcohol and recreational narcotics that were on offer.

Gusto’s invitation to his old friend Lord Leopold has brought him to Castello Sessantanovo.

The Aviatrix

Lady Fifi Fitzfier

Her Background Story

An energetic tomboy, Lady Fifi Fitzfier was the only child of Earl and Lady Fitzfier of Kensington. Born into extreme wealth, her childhood was devoid of affection. Her philandering father’s womanizing antics and failure to acknowledge any paternal connection with his daughter, tormented his wife and sent her to an early grave. Close friends said that his late wife died of a broken heart, however it would be more accurate to attribute her death to alcoholism. Lady Fifi was then raised by her aunts and her paternal grandmother with whom she shared her daredevil sense of adventure.

As a young woman, Lady Fifi continued to exhibit a desire to push the boundaries of adventure and was highly influenced by some of the early female pilots of the time. In fact, after chatting with American Aviatrix Amelia Earheart, Lady Fifi was determined to hold a commercial pilot’s flying license and immediately embarked upon a programme of lessons at a prestigious Flying School in Switzerland.

Lady Fifi, never married but took numerous lovers, with many men in many ports waiting anxiously for her call. She craved attention from her suitors, compensating for the lack of affection given by her absent father, and her striking looks, extreme wealth and fierce independence drew admirers wherever she went.

Her Relationship with the Victim

Lady Fifi caught the admiring roving eye of Gusto Lollorosso at Nairobi airport when she emergency-landed her plane with skill and precision on the dusty runway. Hugely impressed at her independence and solo piloting technique, Gusto immediately felt an attraction towards Lady Fifi and was keen to invite her to visit his ranch in the colonial town of Nyeri in Central Province.

A regular visitor to Lollorosso’s home in Colonial Kenya, Lady Fifi was a popular addition to his party set. Her joix de vivre was welcomed by the ladies of Gusto’s household and they were keen for Lady Fifi to join them in the Sisterhood of his harem. However, keen to retain her independence and her mystique, Lady Fifi never took up Lollorosso’s numerous and regular invitations to permanently reside at his home, although she had her own private chamber within his house which she used as she pleased.

When Gusto first returned to his native Italy, Lady Fifi was far away pursuing her dream to become the first woman to fly solo across the Asian continent. However, more recently Lady Fifi had taken to visiting Gusto in his semi-retirement and still enjoyed his company and that of his companions at Castello Sessantanovo.

The Polo Player

Viscount Bacchus Fortescue of Shaftesbury

His Background Story

A handsome and athletic sportsman Viscount Bacchus was a popular polo player in British Kenya.

British nobleman from an old Irish aristocratic family, Viscount Bacchus had played polo for his University team, the Cambridge Blues and quickly made a name for himself at the Antwerp 1920 Olympics.

Tragedy struck when Viscount Bacchus was involved in a road traffic accident which killed his mother. She was killed instantly when the Dusenberg Model J sports car he was driving had collided with another vehicle on the notorious Verdon Gorge circuit in France.

Desperate to escape the media scrutiny of the accident, Viscount Bacchus relocated to Nairobi, Kenya to concentrate on his sport and draw attention away from his personal life.

His Relationship with the Victim

Popular amongst the equestrian racing clique in the colonial town of Nyeri, Viscount Bacchus caught the eye of Miss Magritte del Mesé at a sporting fixture. Impressed by his physique and his ability to handle his mount on the polo field, Miss Magritte was quick to introduce him into Lollorosso’s circle of friends where he was welcomed with open arms and quickly fitted into the exclusive aristocratic clique.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Photographs reproduced by kind permission.

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