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 the skeletons of eight more men.
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…
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.
My thoughts: Detective Kubu returns in a case of murder, secrets and promises. Sent out to a remote village to investigate human remains found while digging for new water pipes, Kubu encounters people who won’t speak up, closing ranks against the outsiders. As more bones are found and pathologist Dr McGregor thinks they’re the massacred remains of a group of Bushmen, discriminated against widely, and some may be children, Kubu becomes more determined to find the truth. Then new murders occur.
As Assistant Commissioner Mabuku comes out to help with this new spate of crime, the local police think it’s a newcomer – a Bushman who says he’s come at the behest of his ancestors, because of the bodies they’ve found.
Digging into local history, rumours and friendships, the team find a terrible pact made between a group of friends years before. Could this hold the answers?
Gripping, trawling through the worst things humans can do, but with a lightness of touch, finding moments of humour, and with such intriguing characters. I loved the last Kubu I read and this was also very good. Enjoyable and thought provoking.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.