Friday, 2 September 2016

Book Review: Deadly Harvest ,a Detective Kubu novel by Michael Stanley

 I was gifted this book by Publishers Orenda and so I offer an honest review.

Deadly Harvest is the  first book in this seemingly long running series that I have read but I can emphatically say it will not be my last!
What a find! The plot is not so much a gory thrillier, more so a good old fashion mystery in the style of the legends like Chesterton and Christie. The exotic Botswana setting provides some international spice to a very satisfying and savoury dish. Lots to get one's teeth into here, A woman officer in a Man's world. Corruption in the highest echelons of the social strata, the ongoing issue of the spread of AIDS and the fear and stigma for  the young children left orphaned it it's destructive wake.
All this nestles around the central murders  which focus on The activities of  Witch Doctors and the wholly unsavoury idea of Muti. Animal sacrifice  is quite nasty enough, but the idea of  human parts being harvested from living victims is at once horrifying and yet also makes sense logically if not morally. Let us not forget that many cultures look on the idea of the living body embodying a force for strength and  potential rejuvenation, why else would Elizabeth Bathory and her ilk have sought blood as a bathing additive and this is the central idea from which vampirism also springs, so whilst we in the west balk at "Third World Mysticism and traditions"  we should not be too judgemental.
The book beautifully juxtaposes the reality in a modern Botswana of a christian Faith that holdis life sacred with those more traditional views that allow for the weak to become powerful by transferrence of power from those that are seen to embody powerful traits,  talismans such as albinoism or virgin purity for fecundity and endurance This is interesting as Catholicism (a powerful Christian denomination in Africa) places such a hard emphasis on the power of Christ's blood through transubstantiation and yet stands in shocked abhorrence.
The book is at once warm  and engaging with several larger than life characters who invite you into the world that the twin authors  Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (who pen under the name of Michael Stanley) creates , not least David "Kubu" Bengu himself whose obvious enjoyment food is comically pervasive throughout the plot. His wife and child are welcome additions to lighten the mood and family scenes are a nice if sometimes bittersweet foil to the darker elements of the chase.

Samantha Khama is brilliant choice as the first female Detective in the CID, she may have an agenda in her pursuit of child abductors but that makes her a tremendous advocate of all children in Botswana and a aggressive see,er of the truth and her pairing with the measured and wise "Kubu" gives her great advantage and promise for personal development. I like the pairing very much.

The themes are obviously very well researched, the amount of empirical information is vast but the fact nestles beautifully into the fiction and makes for a very satisfying whole. I strongly recommend this book and intend to seek those that came before and the next in the series "A Death in the Family".

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