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Dying to Live: A Detective Kubu Mystery


Dying to Live: A Detective Kubu Mystery

I wish that the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, known to the world as Michael Stanley, published more frequently...say, a book every other month. My appetite for their exquisitely well-written Detective Kubu series is as large as the character himself, Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu. Kubu (whose nickname, which means “rhino,” is a reference to his size) is a somewhat soft-spoken, likable and very savvy law enforcement officer whose quiet demeanor and winning personality mask an extremely keen intellect and forceful desire to see that justice is administered through the proper channels.

"DYING TO LIVE is beautifully constructed and wonderfully told.... What propels the book, and wondrously so, is the mystery at the heart of it and the deep uniqueness of the personalities who move through the story..."

DYING TO LIVE is the sixth installment in the series, and while newcomers can jump on here without difficulty, doing so will undoubtedly provide the impetus to go back and read what has gone before as the result of the sheer storytelling joy that the book provides.This is arguably the most complex volume of the series to date, mixing the traditional with the contemporary on a number of different fronts. The story begins on slowly converging parallel tracks. The first concerns the discovery of the corpse of a Bushman near what is known as the Central Kalahari Game Preserve. The victim, a somewhat well-known (if not to say notorious) local figure named Heiseb, is old enough to have died of natural causes. Such is not the case, though. Local pathologist Ian MacGregor quickly determines that Heiseb died of a broken neck.

However, there is an additional puzzle. Heiseb may have been very old at the time of his sudden demise, but he had the internal organs of a much younger man. Matters become even more perplexing when the corpse of the deceased, along with MacGregor’s computer, is stolen from the morgue. The police are also troubled by the disappearance of a local witch doctor who has a bit of a reputation as well. The occurrences appear to be related somehow, particularly since Heiseb was rumored to have access to a source for a rare plant that could prolong a person’s average life span or extend it indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Kubu has his own personal problems. While he is still adjusting to the death of his father (as told in A DEATH IN THE FAMILY), Kubu finds that illness is striking close to home, and it is playing havoc with his usually solid relationship with his wife, Joy. Kubu meets all challenges with a quietly steadfast fortitude and resolve, somehow balancing and maintaining his professional duties and familial responsibilities while keeping them separate and apart. He does this not so much by compartmentalization as simply taking things as they come and dealing with them as effectively as possible. One issue is resolved by the end of the book, while another hangs over, but not before Kubu has the opportunity to make a choice that might betray his own solid belief system in order to achieve an all-important goal.

DYING TO LIVE is beautifully constructed and wonderfully told. Literally all of the violence here occurs off of the printed page, with only the aftermath left to see. Explosions, sex and karate are absent as well. What propels the book, and wondrously so, is the mystery at the heart of it and the deep uniqueness of the personalities who move through the story, some from its beginning to its end and others momentarily, never to be seen again. The result is more than a great mystery. It is a tale for anyone and everyone who finds joy in reading that is well-written and lovingly so. This volume, like its companions, is a must for your bookshelf.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on October 27, 2017

Dying to Live: A Detective Kubu Mystery
by Michael Stanley

  • Publication Date: October 24, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250070902
  • ISBN-13: 9781250070906