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Stanley, Michael - 'A Deadly Trade'
Paperback: 544 pages (May. 2010) Publisher: Headline ISBN: 075534409X

This is the second book from the team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip and again features Detective Kubu. A DEADLY TRADE is sent in Botswana, but is quite different to the Alexander McCall Smith books (the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series), which are set in the same country. This book concerns two murders in a tourist camp close to the border to neighbouring Zambia and Zimbabwe. One of the victims (Goodluck Tinubu) has been stabbed through the heart and mutilated while apparently asleep in his tent and the other (Sipho Langa) has been killed by a head injury on the outskirts of the camp. Why have both men been killed? Where is the third man (Ishmael Zondo), a friend of Goodluck who has disappeared from the camp? Is he responsible for the murders? And where is the missing money that Goodluck apparently had? To add to the mystery, the forensic team discover that Goodluck apparently died several years before during the unrest in Zimbabwe. Did he really die, or did he somehow disappear from Zimbabwe into Botswana under a new name, and if so, why? Detective Kubu is sent from the capital, Gabarone, to help a local detective sergeant, Tatwa, find out what happened. They find an interesting mix of characters in the camp, both the guests and the people who run it, some of whom clearly have secrets they are reluctant to reveal.

Detective Kubu is a fat, genial detective, married to a nice lady, Joy, of whom he is overly fond and protective. He is also very interested in food, particularly in tea and biscuits at suitable times of the day. He has an interesting relationship with his superior officer, who likes to point out Kubu's failings and is prone to outbursts when he thinks the case is not being solved fast enough.

The story is a complex one and involves danger to Kubu's family, as well as further deaths as the story unfold. But at the same time, we are treated to details of Kubu's everyday life, his weekly trips to his traditional parents with his wife, his food indulgences and interactions with his colleagues. The authors draw on the local history of Botswana and surrounding countries, which, it becomes clear, are important to the plot. Eventually, it becomes clear to Kubu that he cannot solve the crime back in Gabarone, but has to return to the camp with Tatwa to discover what really happened to the murdered men.

This is a delightful book that is a clever mix of a serious crime investigation mixed in with the day to day life of the main character, Detective Kubu. It appears to have been well researched and the depiction of Botswana appears authentic. It successfully manages to convey the feel of the local culture and customs of Botswana while developing the plot. I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to the next outing from this team of authors.

Michelle Peckham, England
May 2010

More crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 7/05/2010 20:27