Today is my stop on the Blog-Tour for Dying for Living by Michael Stanley. It is a light-hearted read infused with important topics. The kind of significant issues the western world can’t really fathom because it is part of the traditional tapestry of African culture.
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. 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, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.
About the book
The body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and 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. 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 becomes… 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 detectives.
The Michael Stanley writing duo weave important issues into their often light-hearted detective series. Violence and abuse of women, the Aids epidemic. biopiracy and witch doctors.
Muti plays a huge role in this story, and indeed in the daily lives of many people in Africa. Muti is word used for traditional medicine in Southern Africa. Traditional medicine is indigenous or folk medicine, as opposed to what we know as modern medicine. There are witch doctors who only use plants, herbs and in general legal substances, however there are still a large number of them who don’t.
They kidnap, torture and kill men, women and children to obtain body parts to use in their muti rituals. In the last few years there has been a global focus or rather an attempt to inform and prevent the abduction and murder of albinos, which is just one example of how dangerous witch doctors are.
Another example is the unhealthy and quite frankly downright scary advice they give to their patients or customers.They actively encourage and convince HIV patients to stop taking their antiretrovirals and actively work against the modern medical community, thereby contributing to the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
When Detective Kubu Bengu is asked to look into the unusual death of a Bushman (Afrikaans: boschjesman) he has no idea he and his team will be pulled in multiple criminal directions, but with one common thread, witch doctors. One dead body turns into more and Kubu gets a schooled in the art of Bushmen knowledge.
Stanley delivers a vigorous read with a quirky, dominant set of characters and plenty of food for thought. It’s almost as if they want their readers to have fun whilst reading, but at the same time show them some harsh realities. Well, consider me shown.