Dying to Live

Written by Michael Stanley

Review written by Robin Jarossi


Dying to Live
Orenda Publishing
RRP: £8.99
Released: July 12 2017
PBK

Southern Africa is an intriguing backdrop for crime writers who publish internationally such as Deon Meyer, Roger Smith, Paul E Hardisty, Alexander McCall Smith to name a few, so it was good to see Michael Stanley’s Botswanan Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu return to our bookshelves.

Dying to Live is the latest featuring Kubu. The series has a charming side but is darker than McCall Smith’s stories which are also set in Botswana. The name Kubu is Setswana for Hippopotamus. He likes to slumber after a good meal, has a cosy family set-up with wife Joy and his two daughters – and above all else, he is a tenacious detective.

Being a police procedural, it naturally begins with the discovery of a body. A bushman is found dead near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. The death may have been accidental, but there is a puzzle – although the dead man was clearly pretty old, his internal organs look very young. And then there’s the bullet in his muscle – but where is the entry wound?

The mystery will keep readers intrigued throughout, with the involvement of witch doctors, university academics, a private detective, Chinese gangsters and smugglers. While trying to untangle this mystery Kubu has a personal crisis to deal with too; as his adopted daughter Nono falls ill and the Bengu marriage comes under strain in consequence.

Michael Stanley provides us with an eclectic and colourful cast of characters, particularly Kubu’s colleagues such as Segodi the lazy, conniving detective; Ian MacGregor the Scottish forensic pathologist who is Kubu’s good friend; there is the earnest Detective Samantha Khama; and finally there’s his irascible boss, Director Mabaku.

Dying to Live is a skilfully plotted story of greed and its consequences; making the case for Detective Kubu absorbing, like the Botswana backdrop. I wonder if McCall Smith’s Mma Ramotswe not already been given the small-screen treatment, fellow Botswanan Detective Kubu would surely be a contender for a series of his own. 

Editorial Note : Michael Stanley is the Pen Name of writers Stan Trollip and Michael Sears



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