Plot Summary of John Kiriamiti’s My Life in Crime

My Life in Crime by John Kiriamiti is a fictionalised account of the author's involvement in various criminal activities.

Plot Summary of My Life in Crime
Plot Summary of My Life in Crime

My Life in Crime by John Kiriamiti is a fictionalised account of the author’s involvement in various criminal activities such as armed robbery, carjacking, and other illicit ventures. The novel traces the protagonist’s trajectory through crime, his eventual apprehension, and his transformation.

In the beginning of the novel, young John Kiriamiti has just been kicked out of secondary school, and his family has ordered him to return to his rural hometown of Thuita. He does not stay for long, though, as he eventually makes his way back to Nairobi, where he becomes a pickpocket under the alias Jack Zollo.

Jack becomes involved in his first “big job” when he is asked by his friend Captain Ngugi to be an accomplice in robbing a white man. He walks away with six grands, but not without feeling guilty for his actions. While out to clear his head, Jack runs into his sister Connie, whom he has not seen since running away to Nairobi years ago. Connie invites Jack to her and her husband’s house, where they watch the news and hear a report of the robbery in which Jack was involved.


Jack becomes paranoid and leaves Connie’s house. Jack and Connie continue spending time together. One day, when visiting his sister’s home, their mother comes over, and she is overjoyed to see her son. She insists that he returns with her for a visit home and that he shares, with the family, part of the money he has been earning. He is broke, though, and has to resort to another robbery so as not to disappoint his family. He makes away with 10,000 dollars this time around and goes home with his mother.

While out one day, after returning to Nairobi, Jack picks up a lost student ID and becomes enamoured with the girl pictured, Miriam Nyambui. Jack decides to visit the girls’ school to return her ID. Jack spots Miriam and calls her over to give her the ID, then asks her to lunch. Miriam accepts the offer, and the two begin spending a lot of time together.

Jack becomes involved in another big robbery job, this time with his friend G.G. The two spend a couple of days planning the heist, and Jack becomes nervous because he knows he will have to use his gun for the first time. The robbery is successful but ends in a gun fight.

Although Jack never talks about the job with anyone, word spreads, and he becomes one of Nairobi’s most wanted criminals. He stays around his apartment as much as possible, pulls a few small jobs here and there, and falls even more in love with Milly.

He gets arrested for the first time and is taken to the Central Police Station. He spends a few days in jail and plots to escape. Jack eventually makes bail under a false name and flees just as the police come to realise his escape.

He returns home, where Milly asks that they finally marry, but Jack refuses, saying that he must flee the country instead for no less than six months. Milly agrees to the plan.

Jack gets everything in order, then begins his get-away journey from Kenya. On his way out of town, Jack runs into his old friends Ndung’u and Njoroge, who join Jack on his trip out of the country.

While on the road, the police pull the men over for questioning, and the three are taken into custody. Jack, knowing that his fingerprints will incriminate him, decides to use a razor to peel off the skin of his fingers to conceal his identity.

Jack is released. He resumes his fleeing from Kenya and drives to Uganda, stopping for a few days every now and then. His final destination is Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jack seeks a job in Congo and gets one as a chauffeur for a Greek millionaire, Stephano, and his family. He becomes a close member of the family and even entertains the idea of staying in Congo for the rest of his life instead of returning to Kenya.

My Life in Crime
My Life in Crime front cover.

In Congo, Jack finds himself in the middle of a love triangle and resolves to leave the country. When Jack boards the plane, he feels that he is in the clear and safely on his way to Uganda. But he is approached by the plane’s captain, who tells him he must get off at the next layover in Astrida, Rwanda. There, Jack is questioned and detained by the Rwandan police.

Jack flees the airport and makes his way via cab and foot to the town center, where he is offered help by a shop owner. Once he finally makes it to his home country, Jack is finally reunited with Milly, but he notices that she acts differently towards him than before he left Kenya.

Jack adjusts to life in Nairobi and soon feels comfortable again. Jack learns that most of his old criminal friends are either dead or in jail, which temporarily convinces him that he himself should no longer be a criminal. However, he soon meets up with his long-lost friend Captain and gets pulled into another job.

The job does not go as planned, and Jack returns home empty-handed. Jack takes a two-month break from jobs, but then becomes involved in another that he hopes will rake in enough money to spoil Milly and set him up for a life of retirement from crime. He becomes involved in yet another job, this time, the robbing of a bank in Naivasha.

Unforeseen circumstances at the bank complicate doing the job as swiftly as Jack and his accomplices would like, but the group soon does the job and flees in the getaway car. They notice, though, that a European is following them. The group comes across an accident between a bus and a car, and does not have time to properly stop. The driver tries to circumvent the accident, but ends up rolling over multiple times. Civilians from the bus in the accident approach the car to help Jack and the others inside, but Jack fires warning shots and the civilians flee. Jack and Captain run in the same direction, away from the scene of the accident. Jack spends a while on the run before finally making his way home to Milly. He lays low and decides to stop being a criminal.

Milly and Jack decide to finally marry, and the two make preparations for the ceremony. On the way to the wedding location, Jack becomes involved in a skirmish with the police, who successfully shoot and immobilise him. He is swiftly arrested and taken to a police car that transports him to the station.

On the day he is meant to marry Milly, Jack spends the day in the Central Police Station being questioned and tortured. He is later tried and sentenced to twenty years in prison and twenty strokes of the cane. Jack is escorted to prison, where he writes his book and claims that he has become a reformed man.

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