Thursday, May 9, 2013
Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley
When Lesego Betse goes missing, her sister Dikeledi knows that something terrible has happened. She tries to get the police interested but no one is convinced it's anything other than a simple runaway case. It's not until four months later that Samantha Khama, new to CID (and their first female detective), takes an active interest. The case reminds her of another, a friend of hers who was killed for muti years ago. Samantha knows this may not be the case with Lesego but feels the investigation deserves more attention than it's gotten. Then another girl disappears. Shortly thereafter, a rising politician is murdered and evidence of muti is discovered in his home. While much muti is made from plants, herbs, and even animals, the muti found in the politician's home contains human remains. It soon becomes clear that the murder is connected to Samantha's case, but can she and Kubu find the person responsible for this heinous crime?
I love the setting in this series. The authors, both of whom grew up in - and still reside in - South Africa, are clearly knowledgeable about the place and culture and are able to convey this both subtly and wonderfully. What I mean by this is that the book isn't overwhelmed by explanation simply for the benefit of the reader, nor is it a case where the setting is simply a gimmick. The details are a part of the story and the plot is very reliant on the culture. You have muti - the medicine or spells made by witch doctors - as well as political and other social aspects, both as part of the overall plot and as pieces of the characters' personal lives.
The case that drives Samantha Khama in her investigation is a real one. Segametsi Mogomotsi was a real victim of a muti murder (the authors mention a bit about the case both in the story and in the author's note). Interestingly the case inspired Alexander McCall Smith as well.
Deadly Harvest is the fourth Detective Kubu book penned by coauthors Stanley Trollip and Michael Sears (Michael Stanley). And as it's my first time diving into the series, it was nice to find that Deadly Harvest could essentially stand on its own. I had no problem at all starting at this point in the series but as with many series I've begun midstream, I definitely plan to go back and read the previous titles!
Here's the title list in order:
A Carrion Death
The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu
Death of the Mantis
To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.
For more on the authors and the series, visit their website here (they've also got an excerpt from the book on the site). You can also like them on Facebook and follow Detective Kubu on Twitter.