While building a pipeline near the Okavango Delta, a contractor unearths the remains of a long-dead Bushman. Rookie Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of Botswana CID and Scottish pathologist, Ian MacGregor, are sent to investigate, and MacGregor discovers eight more skeletons.
Shortly after the gruesome discoveries, the elder of a nearby village is murdered in his home. The local police are convinced it was a robbery, but Kubu isn’t so sure … and neither is the strange woman who claims that an angry river spirit caused the elder’s death.
As accusations of corruption are levelled and international outrage builds over the massacre of the Bushman families, Kubu and his colleagues uncover a deadly covenant, and begin to fear that their own lives may be in mortal danger…
A Deadly Covenant By Michael Stanley once again brought Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu into my world and I could not have been more delighted. For me it is refreshing as a reader, to be able to read a novel set within the African Landscape, far, far away from the typical European setting most detective books set in. I could feel the heat, almost feel the sand between my toes and indulge in the way the culture and the landscape gives this series a very individual feel. The unfamiliar generating a more intense sense of unease as different habits, values and way of expressing beliefs, causes deadly problems between the bushmen and those now living on their tribal lands, in this new installment of one of my favourites series. The combination of magical, the mystery and a much loved character together, meant I absolutely adore every signal page of the story.
Characterisation has always been important to me as a reader and ‘Kubu’ is one of my favourites. Here in A Deadly Covenant he is at his most adorable best. I don’t always want a protagonist who is scared by trauma, tortured by the loss of a wife, a case gone wrong which forever haunts them, sometimes I want Kubu. Warm, insecure, earnest and committed to bringing the killer to justice. He shows that having an open mind, not allowing prejudice to blind him against the truth, is what makes him such a wonderful character. He is willing to ensure that he doesn’t take sides with the many factions in this story, his charming honesty making him the perfect foil to a complex and deadly foe. Especially so in A Deadly Covenant it is his insecurity, combined with a keen intelligence that makes many around him under to estimate his his ability, more fool them, because Kubu with every book that is written about his early life as a policeman, becomes more rounded, more fleshed out, forming the man he becomes in later life.
The story is a clever combination of mystery and characterisation. The writers managing to ground the story in the landscape without losing site of Kubu’s most endearing characteristics, never allowing an often complex plot, full of many possible antagonists to become mired in too many twists. I loved how each were given very believable reasons to kill, but equally explanations as to why they could just be innocent parties in someone’s else’s murderous intentions. It kept me as a reader on edge at all times, trying and failing to out guess the minds of the writers. The fact that the overall feeling of the book for me is more gentle than many in this genre, doesn’t mean it lacks a powerful sense of excitement. In fact the combination of these is what draws me back to both the series and it’s lead character and will continue to do so for as long as Michael Stanley chooses to keep writing them.
You can buy this novel directly from the publisher at Orenda Books. You can also purchase it from Waterstones and Amazon.
About the authors
Michael Stanley is the writing team of South African authors Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. 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 CID. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. The third in the series, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original mystery and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. A Death in the Family and Dying to Live are the latest in the Detective Kubu series, published by Orenda Books. A prequel to the Detective Kubu series, Facets of Death, was published in 2021 and A Deadly Covenant follows Kubu’s second case.