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In the southern Kalahari area of Botswana—an arid landscape of legends that speak of lost cities, hidden wealth, and ancient gods—a fractious ranger named Monzo is found dying from a severe head wound in a dry ravine. Three Bushmen surround the doomed man, but are they his killers or there to help? Detective David “Kubu” Bengu is on the case, an investigation that his old school friend Khumanego claims is motivated by racist antagonism on the part of the local police. But when a second bizarre murder, and then a ...
In the southern Kalahari area of Botswana—an arid landscape of legends that speak of lost cities, hidden wealth, and ancient gods—a fractious ranger named Monzo is found dying from a severe head wound in a dry ravine. Three Bushmen surround the doomed man, but are they his killers or there to help? Detective David “Kubu” Bengu is on the case, an investigation that his old school friend Khumanego claims is motivated by racist antagonism on the part of the local police. But when a second bizarre murder, and then a third, seem to point also to the nomadic tribe, the intrepid Kubu must journey into the depths of the Kalahari to uncover the truth. What he discovers there will test all his powers of detection . . . and his ability to remain alive.
A dedicated Botswana detective finds himself in the middle of simmering tensions between police and nomadic Bushmen.
A prologue set in the 1950s reveals a cave atop several desert hills as The Place, where one can meet "the spirits." In the present, rangers Ndoli and Vusi find their colleague Monzo dead in the desert at the bottom of a dry riverbed, a place well out of his bailiwick. The body is surrounded by Bushmen who vault to the top of the suspect list and are arrested. (A few weeks earlier, two University of Botswana students were found dead at a campground, and local gossip blames witchcraft.) Detective Sergeant Phinda Lerako, known to local natives as "Detective Stone Wall," won't listen to educated Bushman Khumanego's warnings against a rush to judgment. So Khumanego appeals to his old friend David "Kubu" Bengu, Lerako's subordinate in the department. The big boss, Mabaku, allows Kubu to investigate as long as he doesn't "stir things up." Unfortunately, evidence leads in a different direction, and the more Kubu follows the real trail, the harder Lerako comes down on him. Monzo's secret mistress provides some key clues, but before Kubu can put all the pieces together, a second, very similar murder raises the stakes and puts the pressure on the usually ebullient detective.
Kubu's third recorded case(The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu, 2009, etc.) is again alive with localcolor and detail and, refreshingly, offers his fullest mystery plot yet, along with a glossary, maps and a helpful list of characters.
Posted June 17, 2012
Posted March 31, 2012
I am a fan of the first two Michael Stanley books and was very much looking forward to their next entry. The background theme for this book was the plight of the bushmen in South Africa. That is fine, but the book just started out as too overtly preachy. Once the moral lessons were over and the book settled into just letting the mystery carry the story, the book compares favorably with the first two Michael Stanley entries.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 25, 2012
The title is derived from the symbol, a praying mantis, of the People, the “Bushmen” of Botswana, the setting for this, the third Detective Kubu mystery. Kubu, the nickname for David Bengu, assistant superintendent of the CID, means hippo, which describes his girth. Now a father, Kubu faces the challenges of protecting his family from the dangers of his profession and the love of his job.
And no greater tests confront him than those in this novel. Initially, Kubu faces a relatively simple case: A park ranger is found dead, with three Bushmen near the body. One detective decides the three are guilty of the murder, but Kubu is beseeched by a boyhood Bushman friend to look into the case. The lack of evidence forces Kubu to free them. Subsequently, additional murders in the vicinity raise further questions and lead Kubu deeper into the investigation.
The authors [Michael Stanley is the nom de plume of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip] provide significant insights into the lives and culture of the Bushmen, sort of nomads living a primitive existence in the Botswanaian desert. Of course, these observations play a crucial part in solving the murders. It is an absorbing work, intriguing from the first page. Carefully constructed, without a superfluous word, the novel carries the reader swiftly from beginning to a logical, but unexpected, conclusion. Highly recommended.
Posted September 22, 2011
I'm still not sure how I'm getting myself into these situations, actually I do know the reason. It's simple actually. I don't due my research before I agree to review a book, at least I don't do it well enough. How else do you explain my penchant for reviewing books that are actually somewhere in the middle of series. It is simply that I'm a mystery junkie who takes any opportunity he can to read a good one? Do I enjoy reading said book and liking it so much that I feel compelled to go back and read the rest of the series? I think I would have to answer yes to both questions. I'm just happy to say that this book fell right in with the pattern.
From cover to cover, this was a well crafted mystery novel that kept me engaged the entire time. No matter how well a mystery is mapped out, how carefully it's constructed, if it doesn't have an enjoyable detective there is no reason to read it. If the detective is cookie cutter boring, who cares about the what they are doing. A detective needs to be different enough to stand out in a sea of mystery novels, but not so off putting you want the bad guy to win.
Detective David "Kubu" Bengu is a detective that I really think Hercule Poirot would have enjoyed working with, though he would never admit it. Kubu, so nicknamed as a child for his size (think hippopotamus,) is one of the most enjoyable "new" detectives that I've come across in a long time. He seems to have such a wonderfully developed sense of self, without being egotistical (Hercule Poirot) about it. He knows his limitations, but he trusts his own judgements and follows through with them. He is dedicated to his family and his job, and though there are tensions between the two, he seems to have found that perfect balance. It's rare for me to really love a detective that wasn't dreamed up by one of yesteryear's mystery mavens. So when it happens, I want to dive into every book they are in. I'll now be going back and reading the books I've missed, and I'll be looking forward to the new ones as they come out.
Posted September 3, 2011
In the Kalahari in Botswana, Maguasehube ranger station office manager Thebe Ndoli and Maguasehube ranger station head Peter Vusi find one of their game rangers Tawana Monzo dead in a desert locale way beyond their duty station. Detective Sergeant Phinda "Detective Stone Wall" Lerako arrests three Bushmen who were at the murder scene.
Educated Bushman Khumanego finds his plea to the detective ignored. He asks his Botswana Criminal Investigation Department Assistant Superintendent to look into the murder case. CID Director Jacob Mabaku approves Kubu's inquiry but admonishes him not to cause problems for the local cops. However Kubu finds evidence proving an unknown person was also at the murder scene while his immediate supervisor Detective Sergeant Phinda Lerako demands he backs down until a second similar murder of a Namibian "tourist" in the same arid area occurs.
The third Detective Kubu mystery (see The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu and A Carrion Death) is a strong police procedural in which Botswana plays a major role in the investigation. The whodunit is entertaining and very different in outlook than the whimsical cases of Precious Ramotswe (by Alexander McCall Smith). However, like Mr. Smith's protagonist, it is the profound look into the country; in the Kubu case how law enforcement deals with the nomadic Bushmen that make this a superb mystery.
Posted December 9, 2011
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Posted January 25, 2014
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Posted November 4, 2011
No text was provided for this review.