#BookReview: Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley (@detectivekubu)

51QjLBkBiqL“A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama – new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department – suspects the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African medicine usually derived from plants, sometimes animals, and, recently and most chillingly, human parts. When the investigation gets personal, Samantha enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu to help her dig into the past. As they begin to discover a pattern to the disappearances, there is another victim, and Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer who has only one thing in mind …”

I like an international flavour to my books; a little escapism to a far away land where life is different to mine.  In a literary sense, I feel well travelled.  So why can’t I think of a single book I’ve read that’s set in Africa?  Probably because Deadly Harvest was my first visit to the vast continent (how is that possible?!).  But what an introduction!  This was no gentle easing into the customs and the climate, oh no!  This was a smack-you-between-the-eyes visit to Botswana with body parts galore!

New recruit to the Criminal Investigation Department, Samantha Khama, volunteers to investigate a missing persons case involving a young girl.  Samantha is the first female employed by the CID and is not liked by her male colleagues.  Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu however sees ‘something’ in Samantha so offers guidance and his extensive knowledge base to help her solve the case.  Before long things have escalated with a second girl going missing.  Samantha is convinced the girls are being taken for muti, the traditional African medicine made from plants, animals and sometimes, horrifically, human body parts!  Can Samantha and Kubu track down the serial killer masquerading as a witch doctor before another girl goes missing? And will the Botswanan people assist the investigation, or will the fear of black magic strike terror into those who hold the answers…?

I was part of the blog tour for this book back in June and I featured the opening of chapter one.  You can read that post by clicking here.   I said then how excited I was to read this book and I was not disappointed, not one drop!

Detective Kubu is not my normal kind of detective.  For one, he’s happily married with a beautiful young family.  He’s not all that grumpy, nor is he riddled with addictions or fighting his own demons (this is book four of the series so forgive me if that isn’t the case and I’ve missed something in books one to three!).  He comes across as a normal sort of chap but with that drive and determination that every great detective has.  I really liked him!  Normally I would find such a ‘normal’ character a little on the boring side, but not Kubu.  There’s a real likeability to him.  Samantha, on the other hand, made me want to shake her. She certainly wasn’t doing anything to help herself fit in, with her confrontational attitude and determination to ‘bring about change’ in an aggressive way.

The story was well paced and kept my attention from start to finish.  There are red herrings along the way to keep you guessing.  It was only as I moved towards the closing chapters did it dawn on me who the killer was.  I enjoyed the subplot, with the father of one of the missing girls spiraling into madness and casting the blame at another door.  The story had an eeriness about it which I found truly fascinating.  That suspense coupled with my own macabre interest drove me on to read ‘just one more chapter, just one more and then I’ll stop’…

Would I recommend this book?  You bet’cha!  It’s a brilliantly written police procedural with a cast of chilling characters who draw you in from page one until the very end.  Detective Kubu has a new fan (in me!) and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, A Death in the Family, which I thankfully have on my TBR.  Creepy, spinetingling and oh so good!

Four and a half stars out of five.

Many thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and the author for a copy of Deadly Harvest in exchange for an honest review.

Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th May 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads | Orenda Books |

Smith & Sons (11)

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. The next in the Detective Kubu series is A Death in the Family, also published by Orenda Books.

 

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