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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

A Carrion Death - Michael Stanley Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: Smashed skull, snapped ribs, and a cloying smell of carrion. Leave the body for the hyenas to devour-no body, no case.But when Kalahari game rangers stumble on a human corpse midmeal, it turns out the murder wasn't perfect after all. Enough evidence is left to suggest foul play. Detective David "Kubu" Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department is assigned to the case.The detective's personality and physique match his moniker. The nickname "Kubu" is Setswana for "hippopotamus"-a seemingly docile creature, but one of the deadliest on the continent. Beneath Kubu's pleasant surface lies the same unwavering resolve that makes the hippopotamus so deceptively dangerous. Both will trample everything in their path to reach an objective.From the sun-baked riverbeds of the Kalahari to the highest offices of an international conglomerate, Kubu follows a blood-soaked trail in search of answers.Beneath a mountain of lies and superstitions, he uncovers a chain of crimes leading to the most powerful figures in the country-influential enemies who will kill anyone in their way.A memorable detective makes his debut in this gritty, mesmerizing thriller. Set amid the beauty and darkness of contemporary Africa, A Carrion Death is the first entry in an evocative new series cutting to the heart of today's Botswana-a modern democracy threatened by unstable neighbors, poachers, and diamond smugglers. Those trying to expose the corrupt ringleaders will find themselves fighting for their lives... My Review: I want to smack the copywriter who created the promo copy above, and on the dust jacket of my library's hardcover. “Detective” Kubu is “Assistant Superintendent” Kubu. And there's something very uncomfortable to me about the “darkness” of modern Africa cited above. Just tin-eared phrasing, I'm sure. No one in publishing could be unconsciously playing with stereotypes. No no.Mm. That's as may be. I found Kubu and his Botswana to be a welcome new angle on territory once owned, in the US market and mind, by McCall Smith's rather more twee Mma Ramotswe series. Kubu, the dangerous hippo of a detective in the series, is a Mozart-singing grocery hound, a kind of African Nero Wolfe-cum-Inspector Morse with a very nasty boss, a very appealing wife, and a large country to help police.It's a nice debut novel about an interesting character with a lot of promise. The writing team, one Afrikaner and one Minnesotan, do a lot with their man's appetites for food, truth, justice, and facts. They're a bit less facile with the villains, using a lot of shortcuts...wealth equals evil...and failing to avail themselves of opportunities to work in some believable offsets to the faults.The Superstitious Natives Who Are Right trope isn't one I like much, either, but I'll let that go for this book. If it happens again, there will be discussion of it then.On balance, the series deserves another shot, and the sleuth a chance to grow and shine. Until next year, then.