Review: The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu by Michael Stanley

The third of 14 books I plan to read for the medium level of the Global Reading Challenge takes place in Botswana and is the second ‘Detective Kubu’ book by Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. The book is published as A Deadly Trade outside the US.

At a tourist camp in the lush northern part of Botswana the bodies of two guests are discovered early one morning while a third guest has disappeared, apparently back to nearby Zimbabwe. When authorities realise that there may be political and/or international ramifications arising from the case Assistant Superintendent David Bengu, known as Kubu which means hippo in Setswana, is sent from Gaborone to lead the investigation. Ably assisted by local Detective Sergeant Joseph “Tatwa” (giraffe) Mooka the pair soon discover that everyone at the camp has something to hide and that nothing is what it appears. The first of many twists in the case is that one of the two dead men, school teacher Goodluck Tinubu, is recorded as having died thirty years earlier in the bloody Rhodesian civil war.

There is much to like about this book. Kubu is a charming character and the portrayal of his work and family life is a refreshing change from the tormented lone wolf coppers we see so much of. He manages to maintain a civilised relationship with his immediate superior, is happily married to his first wife and even has a sound relationship with his parents. This in particular provides an interesting angle as it depicts the differences in outlook and behaviour between the generations. Other characters are nicely drawn too, including Kubu’s workaholic boss Jacob Mabaku, his colleague on this investigation Tatwa who is newly qualified and still learning the ropes and his delightful wife Joy. The collection of misfits and outsiders who have made their home at the Jackalberry Camp also intrigue, none of them being stereotypical and all of them having very believable reasons for ending up in their present circumstances.

The authors have also done a good job with the historical and political backdrop to this story, dealing relatively lightly but intelligently with both the Rhodesian war and its aftermath and the need for a delicate handling of the relationship between Botswana and the troubling neighbouring Zimbabwean Government. I’m sure it would have been easy to have turned the book into a lecture about these subjects but avoiding this trap made the story much stronger and more thought provoking as readers are left to draw their own conclusions.

I did however find the book a little too long. The story itself felt slightly more complicated than it needed to be and for me it dragged in the middle portion as there was much driving across country and relaying of information from one jurisdiction to another which was unnecessarily repetitive and slowed down the pace. That aside though The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu is an entertaining read and you’d be hard pressed to find a book more evocative of its image-rich, exotic location. The inclusion of two maps and a cast of characters (with phonetic pronunciations) is the icing on this very delicious cake and I am looking forward to a third installment of this series.

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This book has been reviewed at Aust Crime Fiction and Crime Watch

I reviewed the first book in the series, A Carrion Death, for last year’s Global Reading Challenge.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
My rating 3.5/5
Author website http://www.detectivekubu.com/default.aspx
Publisher Harper Collins [2009]
ISBN 9780061883248
Length 441 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Book Series #2 in the Detective Kubu series
Source I bought it

This entry was posted in 2011 Global Reading Challenge, book review, Botswana, Michael Stanley. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Review: The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu by Michael Stanley

  1. Bernadette – Thanks for this review. Isn’t it interesting how this series shows Botswana in a different way from the way we see it in Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series? I’m glad you brought that up about the maps. I really like it when books include them; I really think they help the reader.

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  2. Maxine says:

    Nice review, Bernadette. I enjoyed the first one of this series but, like you with this one, found it a bit long. I did think about reading the second one when I was offered a copy, but had such a long queue at the time that I declined. I probably should read this, but I am still so scarred from reading The Screaming of the Innocent by Unity Dow that I don’t know if I could ever read another book set in Botswana without thinking of that one, in which the prevalent culture is so convincingly described it is hard to think out of it.

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  3. Dorte H says:

    I have also thought about this series for the global challenge, but I may try to find something African that is less slow. My best pick last year was Yaba Badoe, True Murder from Ghana (a gift from Maxine). Very charming and intriguing.

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  4. Kerrie says:

    I’d love to borrow this one Bernadette

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  5. Would love to loan it to you Kerrie but it’s in e format 😦

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