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.

Now it seemed that Khumanego was unhappy with the fate of the Bushman and now Bushman were being accused of crimes that they did not commit including the death of two students from Bushman poisoning and the accident that happened to Monzo. Against his superiors better judgment he allowed Kubu to get involved and attempt to assist Khumanego in his quest to prove the Bushmen innocent of the crimes.

Kubu and his wife Joy are the parents of a new baby and Joy is not at all pleased with the idea of Kubu being away from home for any period of time. Joy has her hands full with the baby and although Kubu makes attempts at helping he isn’t doing a whole lot of good since he sleeps through the baby crying at night.

As Kubu begins his investigation, he finds that there seems to be much more going on than just the death of the students and Manzo’s accident. It appears that some kind of treasure hunt is being conducted using some old maps that supposedly lead to treasure that has been long lost. Kubu finds that his trust in his friend might be misplaced and soon Kubu is in danger of losing his own life.

Death of the Mantis is a wonderful story of two boyhood chums now on different paths of life. Kubu is seeking the truth and hoping to stop further deaths. His childhood friend seems to have his own agenda and not one that Kubu approves of.

This series began with “A Carrion Death” followed by “The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu” and “Death of the Mantis”. Each book can be read as a stand-alone but the reading the entire series is a great experience and the settings in Africa are fascinating.

Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip are the two authors that have created this marvelous series writing under the name Michael Stanley.

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