Saturday, September 3, 2011

Death of the Mantis-Michael Stanley

Death of the Mantis
Michael Stanley
Harper, Sep 6 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062000378

In the Kalahari in Botswana, Maguasehube ranger station office manager Thebe Ndoli and Maguasehube ranger station head Peter Vusi find one of their game rangers Tawana Monzo dead in a desert locale way beyond their duty station. Detective Sergeant Phinda “Detective Stone Wall" Lerako arrests three Bushmen who were at the murder scene.

Educated Bushman Khumanego finds his plea to the detective ignored. He asks his Botswana Criminal Investigation Department Assistant Superintendent to look into the murder case. CID Director Jacob Mabaku approves Kubu’s inquiry but admonishes him not to cause problems for the local cops. However Kubu finds evidence proving an unknown person was also at the murder scene while his immediate supervisor Detective Sergeant Phinda Lerako demands he backs down until a second similar murder of a Namibian “tourist” in the same arid area occurs.

The third Detective Kubu mystery (see The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu and A Carrion Death) is a strong police procedural in which Botswana plays a major role in the investigation. The whodunit is entertaining and very different in outlook than the whimsical cases of Precious Ramotswe (by Alexander McCall Smith). However, like Mr. Smith’s protagonist, it is the profound look into the country; in the Kubu case how law enforcement deals with the nomadic Bushmen that make this a superb mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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