Diamond heists, witch doctors and a cute hippo: Facets of Death by Michael Stanley #bookreview #FacetsOfDeath #RandomThingsTours #SunshineNoir

Detective Kubu, renowned international detective, has faced off with death more times than he can count… But what was the case that established him as a force to be reckoned with? In Facets of Death, a prequel to the acclaimed Detective Kubu series, the fresh-faced cop gets ensnared in an international web of danger – can he get out before disaster strikes?
David Bengu has always stood out from the crowd. His personality and his physique match his nickname, Kubu – Setswana for “hippopotamus” – a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest in Africa. His keen mind and famous persistence have seen him rise in the Botswana CID. But how did he get his start?
His resentful new colleagues are suspicious of a detective who has entered the CID straight from university, skipping the usual beat cop phase.
Mining diamonds is a lucrative business, but it soon proves itself deadly. Shortly after Kubu joins the CID, the richest diamond mine in the world is robbed of 100,000 carats of diamonds in transit. The robbery is well-executed and brutal. Police immediately suspect an inside job, but there is no evidence of who it could be.
When the robbers are killed execution-style in South Africa and the diamonds are still missing, the game changes, and suspicion focuses on a witch doctor and his son. Does Kubu have the skill and the integrity to engineer an international trap and catch those responsible, or will the biggest risk of his life end in disaster?

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Hi and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Facets of Death! Huge thanks to Anne Cater for the invite and to Orenda Books for the stunning proof!

I have been curious about the Detective Kubu series for quite a while now but somehow I’ve never taken the plunge. So when Facets of Death came along I knew the time had come to explore the series: a prequel to the existing novels was just the thing to dip my toe in and find out if a detective series set in Botswana might be something I’d enjoy.

Two chapters in (short ones at that), I already knew David “Kubu” Bengu and I would get along like a house on fire. Fresh-faced and hired as detective sergeant straight from university, Kubu is clearly intelligent enough but he’s also very driven and he has none of the cynicism I often encounter in literary police officers. I immediately loved how unapologetically himself he is. Kubu is the Setswana word for hippo, a nickname Kubu got because of his bulk, and he’s made it his own. Like one of the other characters says: he’s wonderful and he doesn’t even know it.

Okay, I just have to insert a cute hippo here! This is Lou! He used to work for television (Daktari, anyone?) but now he’s cared for in the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (FL), where I met him on my honeymoon 😍

Right! Back to business!

From the start there is no doubt Kubu will have his work cut out for him. A private plane was scheduled to transport diamonds but as the airport had to close because of sabotage, a contingency plan was set in motion: an armoured vehicle would transport the diamonds instead, and two decoy armoured vehicles would leave for the processing plant as well, each carrying a box of gravel instead of diamonds. When only the right vehicle is attacked, two guards are killed and the invaluable cargo is stolen, Botswana CID and its newest team member have to catch the culprits and bring them to justice. 

Before Facets of Death I knew absolutely zilch about diamond mine operations and I didn’t know a whole lot about Botswana either. I learnt a lot while reading this but as the information is neatly woven into the narrative, I never felt like I was. Just the way I like it!

If you’re feeling a little hesitant about the Botswana setting, names and words, there is really no need. There is a map in case you need some geographical assistance, there is a list of the cast and the correct pronunciations of their names and there is a glossary for the words whose meaning you might not be able to glean from the context. I have to admit I felt some trepidation as well, mostly due, I think, to unfamiliarity. I don’t seem to come across many stories set in the southernmost countries of Africa and I’m much more familiar with Nordic Noir and Scandi detectives than Sunshine Noir, as this has been dubbed. However, I had an absolute ball with Kubu!

Facets of Death is an entertaining crime thriller, with a main crime that I failed to work out and a fun side mystery I tried so hard to crack I hurt my head. The story comes alive with African cultural elements such as witch doctors and a truly wonderful main character. I can’t wait to read more Kubu! Recommended.

Facets of Death is out now in digital formats and will be out in paperback on 29 April. You can (pre)order it directly from Orenda Books’ new and totally fabulous website / webshop here.

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