Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley

First Line: Detective Sergeant Segodi looked down at the dead Bushman and frowned.

When the body of a Bushman found near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is sent to Gabarone for autopsy, the pathologist finds a few surprises. The cause of death is a broken neck, but although the dead man is obviously very old, his internal organs look remarkably young. Dr. MacGregor calls Assistant Superintendant David "Kubu" Bengu with his findings. Kubu has many irons in the fire at that moment, so he files away the information to get back to as soon as he can. When the Bushman's corpse is stolen from the morgue, Kubu knows that this case has suddenly become high priority.

Once again, the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip has crafted another excellent mystery in a series I think is the best one set in Botswana. There are many interwoven threads in the plot: motives, suspects, the actual crimes committed-- and they all keep the reader guessing as the story progresses. 

In addition to one fine mystery, these two writers bring their setting to life, and they always teach me something about the country, the people, and the culture. This time, the crimes involve muti (charms and/or spells concocted by witch doctors), AIDS, animal poaching, and biopiracy. Also, I found one historical fact stone cold sobering: the last permit to hunt a Bushman was issued in 1936. Always nice to know that at one time you could obtain a permit to legally hunt human beings, isn't it?

As good as the mystery is, as good as the setting is, it's the characters that make this a winning book (and series) for me. Kubu is distracted in Dying to Live because his little adopted daughter, Nono, is very ill. He may be an astute investigator, but he is also a family man and takes his responsibilities there very seriously.

Since he is distracted, we get to see more of a new character, Detective Samantha Khama, who takes her job so seriously that she can forget to smile or laugh. This time, she is not happy with Kubu. Kubu has assigned a missing persons case to her. The missing person is Botlele Ramala, a witch doctor. Kubu knows that Samantha loathes witch doctors and the tragedies their muti potions can cause, and this is his way of teaching her that everyone counts, or nobody counts. Since readers know from the beginning how Samantha feels about this particular case, it is very interesting indeed to watch her work it. I am glad that she's joined the cast of characters.

Strong, complex mysteries. Wonderful settings that pull you right into the heart of the story. Characters that grow and change over time and endear themselves to readers. Haven't read one of Michael Stanley's Detective Kubu mysteries? I suggest you start with the first book, A Carrion Death. You've got some excellent reading ahead of you!

Dying to Live by Michael Stanley
eISBN: 9781466881563
Minotaur Books © 2017
eBook, 325 pages

Police Procedural, #6 Detective Kubu mystery
Rating: A
Source: Net Galley



  1. I do like this series, Cathy. And you're right: the authors do the setting and plots well. But, really, it's the characters who make this series. So glad this is living up to the reat.

    1. It's a series that gets stronger with each new book.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!