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 sees the return of the most lovely down to earth detective on this earth. I don’t think anyone can find anything not to love about Detective Kubu. He is goodness personified. A top bloke. A family man. He is up against evil and superstition in his native country. This Botswanan series is packed full of dark unsettling themes and top notch crime.
Dying to Live was written by Michael Stanley and is book six in the series. For those of you unfamiliar with this series, Michael Stanley is a successful writing partnership between Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. I have been following the adventures of Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu since a Death in the Family. This is sunshine noir, with a dash of something incredibly special.
The latest cases for Detective Kubu bring superstition and greed to the forefront. Kubu and his talented sidekick, Samantha find themselves looking into some rather bizarre occurences. An aged bushman, with some unique skills in medicine, is found dead in suspicious circumstances. What is odd is that the organs from his body do not match the age of the rest of him. The organs are younger. Has he found some secret elixir of youth? Added to this we have a witch doctor who has vanished into thin air. When the bushman’s remains are stolen from the local mortuary, Kubu finds the case taking a dark and disturbing turn. On a personal level, Kubu and his family have to deal with the decline in health of his adopted daughter, Nono. She is HIV positive.
This is rather a dark and haunting story, which feels incredibly relevant. Its raises all kinds of thoughts about witch doctors, their dubious potions and the worldwide market for them. Like Kubu, I find the whole concept of witch doctors odd and shocking. Although it makes sense that in some cultures, there would be traditional potions and ointments to deal with every day disease. However in this instance, we see that rare beautiful animals are killed and their body parts used as ingredients, as well as human parts on occasion. Disgusting!
My verdict is that the latest Detective Kubu story is unbeatable, raw and very moreish. I find myself craving more. Quality crime, with a conscience. Sunshine noir, to unnerve. You cannot go wrong with Dying to Live. Recommended!