Dying to Live
By Michael Stanley
Published by Orenda Books (12 July 2017)
When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he's clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What's more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles... but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective 'Kubu' Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who'd befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of 'Sunshine Noir', Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world's most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction's most endearing and humane heroes.
Dying to Live fits into the crime genre 'sunshine noir', thanks to its dark plots set in a sunny climate. The term 'sunshine noir' also describes how this series makes me feel. The stories explore the vile side of human nature, yet somehow still manage to lift my mood. Each time, it's like coming back to an old friend - slightly older and slightly wiser - with familiar places and familiar characters.
I always feel like I've learnt something about African culture by the time I've reached the end of a Detective Kubu book. Dying to Live is no exception, covering a diverse range of topics (yet again), including traditional medicines, HIV and AIDS, illegal drug manufacturing, local bushmen and rhino-horn smuggling, Fascinating stuff!
This Detective Kubu series is as much about the Botswana setting and colourful characters as the underlying plots themselves. While there's a lot of police procedural in these books, it's broken up perfectly with Kubu's personal life. Detective Kubu is a family man - not the usual damaged detective seen so often in modern crime fiction. His personal problems are very much family problems, which makes him not only realistic but also extremely likeable.
I can't recommend this series highly enough. This is sunshine noir at its best, with plenty of twists, turns and surprises. The next Detective Kubu book can't come soon enough.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher.
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