Dying To Live by Michael Stanley – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

My Review

Dying to Live is the third book that I have read in the marvelous series that features Detective Kubu, Samantha and the rest of the team. Just like the previous novels the cases they have to solve are different to the ones that feature in a book that is set elsewhere.
One of the many reasons I enjoy this series so much is that all the characters are so laid back. Even though there are murders to solve, Kubu still has time to spend time with his family and enjoy his cookies. Samantha is a little different, she is a bit more impatient, more passionate and more eager to prove that she is an able detective.
Both cases are sinister, there is a missing witch doctor and whilst both Kubu and Samantha are critical of the old ways, the case still has to be solved. The other case concerns the body of an old man, who when the autopsy is done shows more questions than answers.
As well as trying to deal with both cases, lazy police officers and plenty of suspects Kubu also has to deal with the deteriorating health of his adopted daughter Nono who is HIV positive. The grief, frustration and guilt felt by Kubu and Joy was raw. I really felt for Kubu with the decisions he was forced to make for the sake of his marriage. I feel that one of the many strong points in this series is how well you get to know Kubu’s family. It is probably the only series that I have read where family features so prominently.
Whilst the storyline features murder, the reasons why it occurred are different and with the added superstition made a fascinating read. I did get a little confused at times, there are a lot of people but there was a reminder at the start of who everybody was along with a guide on pronunciation.
A welcome return to the land of ‘sunshine noir’. Kubu and Samantha are one of my favourite police teams.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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Our Publication Day – Michael Stanley

Today it is my pleasure to bring to you a new series of post where my guest will discuss what publication day means to them. My guests today are Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, who between them write the wonderful Detective Kubu series which is published by Orenda. The blog tour for Dying to Live starts tomorrow and will run through July.

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How will you spend the day?

 

Michael: Usually there’s a launch for the new book, and that is a really enjoyable occasion since ones friends come to support one. Afterwards champagne is essential!

Stanley: It varies. The best is to have a launch party to celebrate with friends, fans, and hopefully new readers. Then to go to dinner with Michael and close friends. If there’s no launch, I like to raise a glass of bubbly to the end of a long, arduous, enjoyable project.

 

Will you be following reviews from early readers or do prefer not to know? (Excluding blog tours)

 

Michael: I admit I read them all. I like to see what people think, how they compare the new book with previous ones in the series and with others that are close in the genre. Mostly the reviews are pretty good, but the critical ones often have useful lessons for us.

Stanley: For a few weeks after a launch, I do read reviews, hopefully in the main-street press, but also online at various destinations. Of course, it is satisfying to read good reviews, but the ones I like the most, whether positive or negative, are those where the reviewer has understood how the book fits into the context of (in our case) Botswana. That is because we try to make our stories relevant, even if they are hopefully entertaining stories.

After that, I take an occasional look at online sites.

 

Is it emotional, getting the novel you have worked on for months into the public eye?

 

Michael: It is! And there is the sinking feeling when you wonder if it couldn’t have been better or different or something. But it’s out there, and that’s that. No going back.

Stanley: Yes! I always feel very vulnerable. After all, you have put out for all to judge something that has been more than a year in the making. There’s no one else to blame (except for Michael!!), so you have to take the responsibility for the quality.

 

If you have had books published before, does the feeling change?

 

Michael: Yes, I think so. One is less nervous, more realistic. But the feeling we have about our collaborative achievement stays the same.

Stanley: I don’t think you can ever repeat the feelings you have when your first book is released. Excitement, pride, nervousness, vulnerability, happiness, joy – all in the extreme.

 

I often wonder and imagine that when your novel is published and you have been working on at least one novel since, is the book that is published less important? And is it a distraction, welcome or otherwise, having to focus on what is for you old material?

 

Michael: One does move on, but it’s appealing to go back to the previous book and see how it feels in retrospect. I’m about to start reading A Carrion Death—our first book—for the first time in ten years, and it will be very interesting to see how it strikes me now

Stanley: Writers of series are always writing a new book before the previous one comes out. Obviously, I can’t forget the previous book for several reasons: the new one has to fit into the arc of the series; there are edits and copy edits to deal with; and you are trying to prepare the launch and associated events. However from an intellectual perspective, the new book has precedence.

 

Do blog tours make you more nervous or do you see them as beneficial?

 

Michael: Blog tours are excellent. Few reviewers are more serious than the people who love reading crime fiction enough to write up the books they read. Sometimes the blogger is a bit surprised by the book—maybe not what they would have chosen cold off the shelf—but that makes their opinion even more worthwhile.

Stanley: Blog tours are very beneficial, and so they make me nervous. Very nervous. That’s because bloggers are influential and their readers listen to what they have to say.

 

What is your publication day treat? Champagne, cream cake, 10km run?

 

Champagne (and sushi, if possible)! (And that goes for both of us!)

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A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley – Blog Tour Review

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About the Book

‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?
Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?

My Review

I had only read one other book in the Detective Kubu series, Deadly Harvest and loved getting to know Kubu, his family and colleagues and enjoyed reading a book set somewhere different, Botswana. Both books could easily be read as stand-alone novels.
Kubu is shocked and heartbroken when he receives a telephone call telling him his father has been murdered. Being family he is forbidden to have any involvement in the case and despite his best efforts none of his friends in the police will tell him anything. He understands the logic behind this but finds it very difficult to accept.
To keep him at a distance he is told to investigate a series of deaths that occurred in a local town after a meeting to decide whether a development into a mine should be allowed to go ahead providing much needed employment. Information comes to light that suggest the cases are linked.
One of the reasons I enjoy this series is the way everything is described. The funeral was one of the most fascinating parts in the book. I felt like I was one of the many mourners, hearing and seeing the mourning and celebrating a life. I could just picture the amount of refreshments needed for a few thousand people. I also liked Kubu’s first experience of cold weather when he is sent to New York, and how different it was to Botswana.
The difference of opinion between the generations also felt believable. How the older, somewhat superstitious view from the elders was winning over the younger generation who were trying to survive without employment and an uncertain future.
A totally different type of crime novel compared to my usual choice of British, American or Nordic but it’s great. Still violent death, still modern day policing but in a different setting where beauty, poverty, culture, superstition and fear all make it seem slightly different.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley

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A young girl goes missing after getting into a car with a mysterious man. Soon after, a second girl disappears, and her devastated father, Witness, sets out to seek revenge. As the trail goes cold, Samantha Khama – new recruit to
the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department – suspects the girl was killed for muti, the traditional African
medicine usually derived from plants, sometimes animals and, recently and most chillingly, human parts. When
the investigation gets personal, Samantha enlists opera-loving wine connoisseur Assistant Superintendent David
‘Kubu’ Bengu to help her dig into the past. As they begin to discover a pattern to the disappearances, there is
another victim, and Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop a serial killer who has only one
thing in mind..

My Review:

Deadly Harvest is the fourth in the series that features ‘Kubu’. I’ve not read the earlier books but after reading this fabulous one I plan on doing so very soon.
There was so much about it that I enjoyed. The very first thing was the little sketch on the back of book of the hippo, the mammal which gives Kubu his nickname. And then there is his love of cookies, like him I don’t need much of an excuse to have an extra one! And I loved that each part of the novel takes its name from a quote from Macbeth which given the main subject matter was very fitting.
Witch Doctors and the muti is the main theme and how it is regarded by the people who feature in the novel. Even the ones who insist that they don’t believe still understandably fear it. Certain parts of it had me feel more than a little spooked, especially when there are unexplained noises around certain people.
It’s not all about superstition. Politics and the impact of AIDS are also a big part of the storyline. I never knew that deaths caused by AIDS was so high in Botswana and the novel demonstrates very well how so many families are affected.
I had a great sense of Botswana, I could hear the characters talk as I was reading, and experienced the atmosphere in the bars and at demonstrations.
It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous books, I never noticed any spoilers or even mentions of previous cases or Kubu’s personal life. I’m looking forward to reading more about him and Botswana soon.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

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