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Daily Archives: August 8, 2011

Death of the Mantis: A Detective Kubu Mystery by Michael Stanley

Death of the MantisReviewed by Patricia Reid

David “Kubu” Bengu is assistant superintendent in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. David received the nickname of Kubu a long time ago and it stuck. Kubu means Jolly Hippo and David is large, does enjoy his food, and has a happy disposition but he is also a very intelligent person with the uncanny ability to sort out clues and come to the proper conclusion when faced with a crime.

Southern Africa is the setting for the Kubu books and offers many interesting facts about Africa and its people. When Monzo, a game ranger at Mabuasehube, fails to appear at work, it isn’t a big surprise. Monzo is one that tends to take off on his own without informing his superiors of his actions. Peter Vusi, head of the ranger station, feels that he would be well rid of Monzo but sent men to look for him. Monzo was found at the bottom of a donga (a dry river course with steep sides). Three Bushman were gathered around him and one was trying to pour water in Monzo’s mouth. Monzo was in critical condition and rushed to a hospital. Vusi had the unhappy task of notifying Maria, the woman Monzo lived with.

This incident was out of Kubu’s jurisdiction but when he received a phone call from Khumanego, he was taken by surprise. Khumanego was a friend from primary school and the two had lost touch. They were a strange pair in school. Kubu was a share-farmer’s son and Khumanego was a Bushman. Khumanego’s parents were part of a small nomadic group that roamed southern Botswana and he was sent to Christian relatives for schooling in the hopes of preparing him for a different future. Khumanego trained Kubu in some of the ways of the Bushman and this instilled a respect for the Bushman in Kubu’s eyes.