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A Carrion Death
Introducing Detective Kubu

by Michael Stanley

      Mention the words Botswana and detection in the same sentence and people will think of the books by Alexander McCall Smith. Here is a new writing duo who want to change all that, so prepare to meet Detective David "Kubo" Bengu from the Botswana CID. He got his nickname (kubo is Setswana for hippo) from his large size, and seemingly benign manner but watch out when he gets ready to charge! In his first case, a partially eaten body is found on a game reserve and Kubo sets about trying to find not only whodunit, but who the John Doe is. This will set him on a trail taking in some powerful people who are also highly dangerous.

Diamonds, drugs, game rangers, poachers, witch doctors... although Precious Ramotswe has also dealt with most of these Kubo plays a more dangerous game. If you want to learn some more about modern Botswana then you will find plenty to chew over in here, and another amiable detective to do the sleuthing. It all adds up to a fascinating read, but at nearly 500 pages an awesomely lengthy one. Much of it seems spun out and a little too leisurely, losing momentum at points when this is the last thing which should be happening. We get told early on rather a lot about whodunit, so much of the mystery is taken out of the book and thus the reader is more a spectator to it all instead of a fellow sleuth. You could fit it all nicely into half the length, and if that is done this will possibly shape up as an interesting and worthwhile series, especially due to its unusual setting and likeable protagonist.

The Book

Harper (HarperCollins US)
April 2008
0061252409 / 9780061252402
Mystery / Contemporary
More at US || UK

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008