Chapter 1 to 7 Summary of Kiriamiti’s My Life in Crime

My Life in Crime is segmented into fourteen chapters. This blog post is a summary of the first seven chapters of Kiriamiti’s novel.

My Life in Crime
My Life in Crime front cover.

My Life in Crime is a 1984 semi-autobiographical novel written by John Kiriamiti, a Kenyan author, about his experiences as a notorious criminal in Nairobi during the 1970s. The novel explores themes of criminality, redemption, regret, and the consequences of one’s actions.

My Life in Crime is segmented into fourteen chapters. This blog post is a summary of the first seven chapters of Kiriamiti’s compelling novel.

Chapter 1 Summary

In Chapter 1 of My Life in Crime, Jack introduces the readers to his family and his parents’ occupation. He attends Prince of Wales School in Nairobi with his brother. In his third year, he is expelled for taking part in a strike. He keeps this information away from his father. He keeps taking money meant for fees and he keeps visiting clubs.


His lies are eventually discovered with the help of his brother, Sammy. He is taken back home to Murang’a. He runs away from home after one month of arrival, stealing six hundred shillings from his father’s coat.

In Nairobi, his box containing all his belongings is stolen and he is left to wander and sleep in the streets. He meets Wanjau, a professional pick-pocket. Wanjau is caught and sent to prison.

Chapter 2 Summary

Jack Zollo clears the room he shares with other pickpockets, including Wanjau, as they have either relocated or been sent to prison. He estimates the amount needed to furnish the room and it falls close to 2,000 Shillings.

He meets Captain Ngugi, who introduces him to other members of his gang and tells Jack of a job worth 33,000 shillings or more. Jack needs money and decides to join Captain Ngugi and his boys. They make arrangement and he goes home. One of the female tenants visits him and tries to seduce him but Jack is not in the mood and sends away rudely.

He goes to New Rwathia for a drink and brings a lady home for the night. The job is successful and Jack is given 6,000 Shillings for his part.

He runs into his sister, Connie, who takes him home to meet her husband. With Connies’s help, Jack furnishes his room and also buys a radio-gramme and a tape recorder.

My Life in Crime Chapter Summary
Chapter by Chapter Summary of My Life in Crime

Chapter 3 Summary

Connie helps Jack move to another house; a two-bedroom apartment. Connie invites their mother without Jack’s knowledge. She is happy to see Jack after so many years. She persuades Jack to follow her back to the village, and Jack decides he needs money to buy the things needed for those back home. To him, going home after several years empty-handed is “antisocial.” He robs a Ugandan tourist and gets about 10,000 Ugandan shillings and over 4,000 Kenyan shillings.

He travels with his mother back to Murang’a. He stays for three days and returns to Nairobi without prior notice. He squanders the money on drinks and prostitutes.

Also in this chapter, Jack encounters Miriam, also known as Milly. He develops an affection for her. He seeks the help of his friend, Joseph Nwangito, to help him speak to Milly’s mom to allow him to marry her daughter.

Milly’s mom promises to give him a response. Before she could, the family was poisoned, but the timely intervention of Jack saved the entire family. Milly moves into Jack’s apartment. Jack notices the positive impact of Milly living with him and the level of discipline it has brought into his life.

Chapter 4 Summary

Jack gets used to Milly living with him. He stays for some time without doing any work. Milly is a member of the EAA (East Africa Association). Jack goes to see Githinji George and he learns of a new job of a European who draws money from the bank at the end of the month to pay his workers. They make arrangements. The job is successful but Kamande is killed in the robbery process. They leave his body in the stolen car.

Jack gets his share of 21,000 shillings from the robbery. As a result of the heat generated by the robbery, Jack stays low for months without pulling off another job.

Chapter 5 Summary

Jack takes Milly to the Small World Club after Mass on Sunday because she asked him to, and it’s there that he meets Captain Ngugi. Milly tries to persuade him to let them go home, but he pleads with her for more time.

Before long, he is surrounded by three cops, one holding a machinegun pointed directly at him. He is arrested, but he succeeds in getting his gun into Milly’s handbag resting on her laps. He is taken to the central police station.

He changes his identity on the spot and adopts a new name, Albert Wanjohi. He refused to answer Jack Zollo when he was called. He is seriously tortured, but he sticks to the name he has adopted.

The following day, he is paraded and recognised by those he has robbed, including the European. He is charged in court but pleads “not guilty” to all the charges brought against him. He gets his chance to escape when some drunks are remanded in prison pending when they are able to pay their fines. Jack gets the name of one of the drunks: Jadiel Gichoya. He pays Gichoya’s fine of 60 shillings with his name and facilitates his own escape before the prison wardens realise their mistakes. He plans to escape to the Congo or Zambia, anywhere he is not known.

Milly insists he brings his younger brother and sister, Richards and Wambui, from Murang’a, to stay with her in his absence. He agrees to her request, as she is to take full responsibility for their education and welfare.

Chapter 6 Summary

Milly goes to St. Teresa School to make arrangements for Jack’s siblings, while Jack makes arrangements for a car and other necessities for his travels. He meets a Sikh, Mot Singh, to help him. Mot asks for a Volkswagen. Jack steals the Volkswagen for Mot, who directs him to where he can get the Volvo he craves.  He is caught stealing but gets away with both the car and 4,000 Shillings. He drives down to Murang’a to get his siblings. He brings them to Nairobi.

Jack attempts to escape from Kenya through the Ugandan border with Ndungu and Njoroge, but this is not to be as Njoroge fought two men over a prostitute and the three eventually get arrested by the police. Their fingerprints are taken and sent to the C.R.O. head office in Nairobi. Jack mutilates the upper skin of his hands, and this helped change his finger prints.

He is set free, while the other two are detained, awaiting the arrival of the Head of C.I.D. He travels alone and comes to Kisenyi, a border town on the Rwanda-Congo border. He stays with a girl named Linda, a banker and introduces himself as Albert.

Chapter 7 Summary

Jack runs into an Indian from Kenya, who owns a hotel in Kisenyi and Mombasa. He helps Jack secure a job as a driver for a Greek millionaire. Jack leaves Linda and promises to see her again.

He drives to the villa of his new boss, Mr. Stephano. He is shown his apartment. He meets the rest of the family, including Kamamikos, the eldest son, and Hellene, his daughter. Mr. Stephano prepares for his work permit.

Jack is treated as a member of the family. He also meets Miss Makarios, Mr. Stephano’s secretary. Jack visits Linda at her place of work. She is happy to see him again, and they both steal an intimate moment together.

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