Michael Stanley and the crime-fiction trinity
I thought these elevated thoughts after reading Death of the Mantis, third and most recent of Michael Stanley's Detective Kubu mysteries. David "Kubu" Bengu, a police detective whose name means hippopotamus in the Setswana language of Botswana, is the star of the book. Deprived of interesting physical and human settings that include the Kalahari desert, however, Kubu might be nothing but an annoyingly cute collection of endearing traits. Without a compelling mystery (and Death of the Mantis had the "So that's why!"s bursting in my head for a good while after I finished reading), the book would be a travelogue with worthwhile bits, incapable, however, of sustaining its length.
So, yes, I enjoyed the Death of the Mantis, and I'm looking forward to having one of its authors on the panel I'll moderate at Bouchercon next month. Among the novel's attractions is a note that explains, among other things, why the authors chose to use the term Bushmen for the indigenous people of southern Africa who figure prominently in the novel. Another is an excellent Alexander McCall Smith joke toward book's end.
Here's the complete Bouchercon schedule.