Skip to main content

Facets of Death: A Detective Kubu Mystery


Facets of Death: A Detective Kubu Mystery

It is so nice to see David Bengu back in action. Bengu, who is better known as “Kubu” in the fictitious world he inhabits, is a police detective in the Botswana CID. This mystery series has been one of my favorites since its inception, in large part due to its principal character. Kubu is quietly loyal, deeply dedicated and good-natured to a fault --- the term “gentle giant” comes to mind --- while being possessed of a keen and sharp intellect that serves him well in his investigative tasks.

A strong second reason is the manner in which Michael Stanley --- the pseudonym for seamless collaborators Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip --- demonstrates the ability of his creation to effortlessly straddle the traditional and the contemporary in southern Africa. Stanley tugs you into the exotic African setting that serves as a backdrop to the series by highlighting the commonalities of the human experience while gently nudging readers’ attention towards the cultural differences between African and western cultures. Throw in a perplexing mystery or two, and the literary stew becomes irresistible.

"Stanley lets readers know a bit more than Kubu and his team, and it is great fun --- as in the best of mysteries --- to see how and when he catches up with the plotter."

The newly published FACETS OF DEATH is a special installment in the series as it takes a giant step back in time to Kubu’s first case as a newly minted detective in the Botswana CID. From the moment he breaks the plane of the front door of CID headquarters, Kubu has to navigate a minefield of jealousy in the unit. He has been tapped to enter the detective ranks immediately after his graduation from the university without paying his dues, if you will, as a beat patrolman. He quickly gets his baptism by fire when he is assigned to investigate two cases, each of which has a different airport as a focal point.

The first concerns baggage that seemingly goes missing in mid-flight. Kubu approaches the problem in a gently unorthodox manner, which ultimately leads to him becoming the investigative star with whom readers of this series are already well-acquainted. The other, and larger, mystery revolves around a plane bursting into flames on an airport runway. Although not immediately evident, this incident is an opening gambit involving a heist of uncut diamonds from the world’s richest diamond mine. The doers are traced, pursued and killed in a violent shootout. However, the diamonds are nowhere to be found.

Kubu uses contemporary investigative methods to track the missing gems to the mastermind of the heist, who hides behind a traditional curtain. Stanley lets readers know a bit more than Kubu and his team, and it is great fun --- as in the best of mysteries --- to see how and when he catches up with the plotter.

Those who are familiar with Kubu will rejoice over this latest entry, which introduces not only the protagonist but also a number of the supporting characters who contribute to the charm of what has gone before. As for readers who are new to Kubu and Botswana, FACETS OF DEATH functions as the perfect place to jump on. Every fan of mystery novels already should be reading and enjoying this series, and not just because of the ending, which has quickly and quietly become my favorite in recent memory.

Last but certainly not least, a tip of the fedora is due to the author(s) and to Poisoned Pen Press for including a cast of characters and glossary here to keep readers --- especially those of us of a certain age --- on track.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 10, 2020

Facets of Death: A Detective Kubu Mystery
by Michael Stanley

  • Publication Date: January 7, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • ISBN-10: 1464211272
  • ISBN-13: 9781464211270