A DEADLY TRADE
by Cheryl Goodenough
This is the second book in the Detective Kubu series by authors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, writing as Michael Stanley. The first A Carrion Death, which was previously reviewed by Sabona, received three award nominations and has been widely acclaimed in media throughout various parts of the world.
A Deadly Trade is an intriguing murder mystery that begins when a mutilated body is found at a tourist camp in northern Botswana. When identified, it is discovered that the man was thought to be killed in the Rhodesian war 30 years previously. It is up to Detective Kubu (meaning hippo in Setswana) Bhengu, an assistant superintendent in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, to solve the mystery, as well as to track down the killers and motives behind several other murders that subsequently occur.
I was quite spellbound by the book, wanting to get to the end and figure out how all the pieces fitted together. The threads relating to Zimbabwe and the Rhodesian war added an interesting aspect to the book. Having left South Africa recently I found it really warming to read about some familiar places and situations, but it really is the solving of the crimes that takes centre stage in A Deadly Trade. The overweight so-aptly named Kubu is such a likeable, well developed character. Elements such as his relationship with his wife and parents, together with his relationship with colleagues and his boss,add a human aspect to the story. We are certainly likely to hear more about his antics in the future. South Africans Sears and Trollip are retired professors who have worked in academia and business. They have been on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe where their adventures include tracking lions at night, fighting bush fires on the Savuti plains in northern Botswana, being charged by an elephant and having their planes door pop open over the Kalahari, scattering navigation maps over the desert. It was on one of these trips that the idea surfaced for a novel set in Botswana.