A DEADLY TRADE by Michael Stanley
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
Michael Stanley is the pen name of the crime-writing tag-team of retired South African-born professors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, and A DEADLY TRADE is their second novel. Set in Botswana, and bringing back their food-loving Detective "Kubu" Bengu, this book is sold as THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUCK TINUBU in North America.
A mutilated body found at a tourist camp near the Namibian border becomes even more of a mystery when Kubu and his fellow policeman discover the victim, Goodluck Tinubu, was killed during the Rhodesian war thirty years before. Trying to solve this modern-day murder entwined with the past becomes even more complex for Kubu and his colleagues when hints of international drug-running, horrific war crimes, and political pressure, all arise. Then the criminals turn their attentions to Kubu’s own family, and the rotund detective realises that the stakes are much higher than just closing the case.
I really enjoyed this book. Sears and Trollip entice the reader with a well-drawn setting in the heart of southern Africa, and a fascinating protagonist. Kubu (nicknamed because his manner and build resembles a hippopotamus - seemingly slow and serene but deadly when roused) is a delightful main character. The mystery elements of the story are nicely-structured, and unfold at an enjoyable pace, while the authors also raise some interesting questions and provide some insight into the conflict-packed history and ongoing tensions of an exotic region. I'm looking forward to going back and reading their debut, A CARRION DEATH, when I find the time.
This book was read and reviewed for Dorte Jakobsen's excellent 2010 Global Reading Challenge.