Lots of muti to chew with an un­re­lent­ing, dan­ger­ous plot

Cape Argus - - LIFE - Alan Peter Sim­monds

IT HAS been sug­gested that De­tec­tive Kubu Bengu, hero of this se­ries of de­tec­tive thrillers set in Botswana, should be a con­tender for his own se­ries like Alexan­der McCall Smith’s and I agree.

This sixth book in the se­ries was my in­tro­duc­tion to the African crime fighter; I look for­ward to read­ing all the books.

Real Africa, col­lo­quial lan­guage, Botswana and the Kala­hari un­fold like the evening sky any­where on the con­ti­nent.

In this novel, al­ready ac­claimed by crit­ics world­wide, the like­able, home-lov­ing Bengu and his re­silient young de­tec­tive as­sis­tant Sa­man­tha Khama, plus a col­lec­tion of savoury and non-savoury char­ac­ters, tell a tale of death, de­ceit and in­trigue in the sun, with con­vic­tion.

Greed in Africa is a con­tem­po­rary

Dy­ing to Live

calamity, ruthless peo­ple from all com­mu­ni­ties in­clud­ing for­eign ones, daily con­spire to plun­der what­ever in Africa spells quick bucks.

Kubu is faced with an in­trigu­ing mys­tery of a Bush­man’s body which on au­topsy ap­pears an­cient, but pos­sess­ing the in­ter­nal or­gans of a much younger man.

There is a lot of muti to chew – lit­er­ally, as you will dis­cover – but the plot, wo­ven into the harsh desert back­drop, is as un­re­lent­ing and dan­ger­ous as the arena in which the in­ves­ti­ga­tion twists its way.

No de­tec­tive novel worth its salt is with­out a foren­sics man, and here it is pro­vided by a Scot­tish doc­tor, as dry as the bush in which he plies his trade, but nonethe­less, fond of a tip­ple. He acts as a pla­cat­ing sound­ing board for Kubu (Setswana for hip­popota­mus) and with the po­lice di­rec­tor, the en­er­getic Khama, an en­ter­pris­ing Bush­man po­lice­man what turns out to be… Well, I won’t spoil the story.

Brought up on Si­menon, Christie and Say­ers, masters of their trade, it was re­fresh­ing to read a book de­void of gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence and sat­u­rated with sex.

Don’t be fooled, how­ever, there is plenty of graphic de­tail and de­scrip­tion to keep ev­ery­one sat­is­fied.

As aca­demics, the writ­ers have had the ex­pe­ri­ence to in­clude a glos­sary so that read­ers un­ac­cus­tomed to Africa and the lo­cal lan­guage may feel more com­fort­able with the ver­nac­u­lar.

Michael Stan­ley is the writ­ing team of Michael Sears and Stan­ley Trol­lip, and both were born in South Africa.

OTHER OP­TIONS: Other books in the pop­u­lar A De­tec­tive Kubu Mys­tery se­ries.

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