A(nother) Year Of Orenda – Facets of Death by Michael Stanley

I love the Detective Kubu series by Michael Stanley, so when I heard that Orenda were releasing new title this year I was more than a little bit excited. I have to say that this did not disappoint. Picking. up with Kubu at the start of his career is a brilliant idea and can serve as a great introduction to a wonderful character for those yet to make his acquaintance. My thanks to Orenda Books who sent me an advance copy of the book, and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour. Here’s what the book is all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 29 April 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

When a Botswana mine is robbed of 100,000 carats of diamonds and the thieves are murdered execution-style, Botswana’s Detective Kubu begins a terrifying international investigation in the prequel to the award-winning Detective Kubu series.

Recruited straight from university to Botswana’s CID, David ‘Kubu’ Bengu has raised his colleagues’ suspicions with his meteoric rise within the department, and he has a lot to prove…

When the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats worth of gems, and then the thieves are killed, execution-style, Kubu leaps at the chance to prove himself. But where are the diamonds? And what role does a witch doctor and his son play? Does this young detective have the skill – and integrity – to engineer an international trap? Or could it cost him everything, including his life…?

A riveting, chilling prequel to the award-winning Detective Kubu series, Facets of Death introduces the beloved Kubu and his richly described native Botswana, in a dark, sophisticated thriller that will leave you breathless.

My Thoughts

I have very much grown to love Sunshine Noir and the Detective Kubu series by Michael Stanley is fun, intelligent, full of brilliant characters and a fascinating cultural specificities and classic detective fiction. In Facets of Death we meet Kubu fresh out of University and on his first day in his brand new job in the police, a Detective on a fast track route that makes him the envy, and irritation, of his colleagues. This won’t deter Kubu though, as keen as mustard and determined to prove his worth amongst his colleagues. It’s not long before he has his first test or two – two very intriguing cases coming his way. The first is the strange disappearance of luggage that may, or may not, have gone missing from the local airport or elsewhere on their respective flights. The second is one that takes the main focus of the novel, and of the whole police force – the suspected hijacking of an armoured vehicle carrying rough diamonds from the local mines.

I love Kubu as a character. As a Detective, he is most certainly larger than life, both in terms of personality and physique, if the descriptions and the adoption of his childhood nickname, Kubu, setswana for Hippo, are anything to go by. He has an almost unerringly sunny personality, always positive, even when faced with the most puzzling of situations. Ultra keen and naturally inquisitive, he has a very logical mind but is not afraid to think outside the box, something that makes all the difference in his quests for the truth. He is a definite family man, with a high level of respect for his parents and a real concern for them which comes through in this novel. There is also the possibility of romance, infatuation striking our keen Detective in the form of Joy, a young woman who works in the records office. His reactions and his behaviour are kind of sweet, and certainly bring a smile to the face as you read.

The central case which dominates the novel is one full of mystery and a healthy side does of the traditional superstitions of the local communities. Talk of Witch Doctors, curses and black magic prevail, twisting a classic heist story with the local legends and beliefs in a believable and entertaining way. Kubu is a little too logical to have absolute belief in the kind of voodoo behaviours which inform the investigation, but certainly leads the reader to question how much of the tall tales is fact and how much fiction. Is the robbery an inside job or an elaborate plot that has been professionally executed. Suspicion is cast amongst the characters, some guilt being clearly evident, some so well hidden that you don’t know who is the good guy and who the bad until right at the critical moment. There are moments of tension, and moments of humour, all perfectly balanced and brought together ina. way which kept be completely rapt.

You really don’t need to know a lot about Botswana to feel like you are in the heart of this story. The authors have created such a sense of place that you feel every moment of the oppressive heat and understand the power of the local culture and the superstitions which make the locals, including the Detective, believe in black magic. Characters are well developed and from the serious and understated authority of Kubu’s father, through to the bluff and bluster of the old Major who runs the diamond mine, each one is captured perfectly on the page. It all combines to leave readers with a story that is thoroughly entertaining and intriguing. It kept me guessing until the end, leaving me completely satisfied.

If this is your first introduction to Kubu, you won’t be disappointed and I think, if anything, it’s actually made me like Kubu even more. To know him as. seasoned Detective is fun but watching him as he undertakes his first steps as a police officer just cements him as one of my favourite fictional Detectives.

About the Authors

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.

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Books by the Authors

5 thoughts on “A(nother) Year Of Orenda – Facets of Death by Michael Stanley

  1. Thank so much for this wonderful detailed review, Jen. It’s special to have a Sunshine Noir and Kubu fan enjoy Kubu first days at the CID. The young Kubu seems to be a hit, so there will be more of him!
    Best wishes

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