#BlogTour #BookReview Dying to Live by Michael Stanley

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.

I'm delighted to be hosting the Dying to Live blog tour today, many thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part.
Dying to Live is a book that has everything I could wish for, intriguing crimes, red herrings, multiple suspects, a fascinating setting and a unique detective in Assistant Superintendent Kubu Bengu. Kubu (his nickname, Setswana for hippopotamus) is unlike any fictional detective I remember coming across, he is neither the grizzled and damaged lone wolf nor the naive newcomer. He is experienced and astute, generous in his dealings with younger colleagues yet not prepared to overlook the poor performance of lazy officers, and is a loving and dedicated family man. In short, he is a man you don't have to learn to love despite his flaws, he is instantly likeable, an honourable everyman who finds himself investigating an extraordinary case. And what a case it is! The autopsy of an elderly Bushman yields a surprising discovery - despite having the skin, bones and hair of an old person, the man had the internal organs of somebody much younger. As Kubu asks, "How can he be forty inside and seventy outside?" And why is there no sign of an entry wound for the bullet found embedded in one of his muscles? Then his body is stolen from the morgue and before long Kubu and Detective Samantha Khama, the first female detective in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Unit aren't only puzzling over the disappearance of his body; they are also desperate to trace what has happened to local celebrity witch doctor Kgosi Ramala, who sells a special muti (medicinal potion) said to prolong life, and American anthropologist Christopher Collins who was fascinated by idea of Bushmen having some sort of oral memory. This is a case that crosses international borders and involves murder, smuggling and biopiracy. Kubu realises that corrupt officials mean he doesn't always know who he can trust and even as he puzzles over the multiple strands of his investigation he is also faced with problems in his home life when his beloved adopted daughter, Nono is admitted to hospital. Born with HIV, Kubu and his wife, Joy are forced to wait to find out whether their little girl has developed AIDS.
I was completely enthralled by Dying to Live, the complex investigation is utterly compelling, the potential heartbreak for Kubu at home providing a deeply moving subplot and the Botswana setting as vibrant as the colourful array of characters. I love novels that invoke a strong sense of place, it could be a far flung country, a specific district of a city or a small fishing village but if I can be transported there and feel that the location is almost another character in the story, such is its importance to the plot, then I'm a happy reader! I knew I was onto a winner after reading just the first few lines of Dying to Live, this isn't a book that pays lip service to a vague, amorphous 'Africa', the stunning cover alone is testament to that.
Dying to Live juxtaposes the darker side of humanity, the avarice and corruption with the fears,warmth and love of family life, it never pulls back from exposing what greed can drive people to do yet is somehow still a book imbued with a gentle humour. Dying to Live is actually the sixth Detective Kubu book and the third to be published by Orenda Books in the UK, however, having not yet read the other books I can state it can be enjoyed as a standalone novel, although I will now definitely be treating myself to other books in the series!
My grateful thanks to the publishers Orenda Books for my advance copy, received in return for my honest review. Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, dates for my fellow bloggers can be found on the poster below.

Michael Stanley can be followed on Twitter as @detectivekubu and the Detective Kubu website is here. Orenda Books are on Twitter as @OrendaBooks and their website with information on all their fantastic books and authors can be found here.

About the Author

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. Stanley was an educational psychologist, specialising in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and is a pilot. Michael specialises in image processing and remote sensing, and teaches at the University of the Witwatersrand. 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 Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award.


  1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read Dying to Live. We're delighted you enjoyed it.

    1. My pleasure, I'm delighted to have had the opportunity!


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