‘A wonderful, original voice – McCall Smith with a dark edge and even darker underbelly’ Peter James.

‘Under the African sun, Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu investigates crimes as dark as the darkest of Nordic Noir. Call it Sunshine Noir, if you will – a must read’ Yrsa Sigurdardottir

‘Detective David “Kubu” Bengu is a wonderful creation, complex and beguiling. The exotic smells and sounds of Botswana fill the pages as well as the changes and struggles of a country brimming with modern technology yet fiercely clinging to old traditions. Compelling and deceptively written …’ –-New York Journal of Books’

   Co-incidentally the book I read before reading this was a memoir about Africa, so it all followed on and seemed perfectly natural to progress to a crime fiction novel set in Botswana. 

This is the sixth book in this series but this is the first one I’ve read.  Written as a joint collaboration between Micheal Sears and Stanley Trollip.

I sometimes wonder how on earth I’ve missed series such as this one. God knows why!

I enjoyed the book right from the start. Interesting and easy to follow with characters I warmed to straight away. Detective Kubu is a large (‘kubu” meaning hippopotamus) jovial man with a happy family life. Not the usual alcoholic angst ridden detective of the type more common to this genre. He does have problems however because he and his wife have an adored adopted HIV positive daughter who has stopped responding to treatment.

Kubu’s colleague, the spiky Samantha is the other detective and actively despises witch doctors with very good reason. She has been tasked with the job of finding a missing one, despite her better judgment because she couldn’t care less if one goes missing but she’s persuaded that looking for him might help her to uncover the whereabouts of some missing young girls believed to have been taken and their organs used in muti, an ancient and despicable practice to produce ‘medicine’ believed by some to cure-all, enhance or prolong life. 

The story begins with the discovery of a dead, apparently elderly looking bushman, whose internal organs as revealed in autopsy are of that of a much younger man. He also has an ancient bullet inside him with no apparent entry wound. Local gossip and legend has it that he was a simple man, a nomad, who did use and supply medicinal herbs one of which may or may not have had the power to prolong life.

Later, his body disappears from the mortuary leaving behind a deepening mystery with some plot twists and all the time enlightening the reader with historical snippets of the lives and beliefs of indigenous nomadic tribes.

The book is disturbing at times not only because of muti but the use of animal parts such as rhino horn or other animal parts  leading to certain species becoming extinct.

There’s a lot of wit and warmth throughout the narrative and the dynamics of the working relationship between the two detectives is on the whole good.

 In parts the historical aspects reminded me of the fascinating book The Dreaming written by Barbara Wood about aboriginal indigenous tribes in Australia who passed on information via ‘songlines’ to their descendants. 
Read more about The Bushmen people of the Kalahari from a guest post of the authors on The Book Review Cafe blog

Thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my Review copy 

To Purchase on Amazon
About the authors

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger.
The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.