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The Second Death Of Goodluck Tinubu: a Detective Kubu Mystery    by Michael Stanley order for
Second Death Of Goodluck Tinubu
by Michael Stanley
Order:  USA  Can
Harper, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Stanley's The Second Death Of Goodluck Tinubu is the second Detective Kubu mystery, following A Carrion Death, both set in Botswana. The series star is portly Assistant Superintendant David 'Kubu' Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, whose offices are in the capital of Gaborone. His nickname is Setswana for hippo, a reference to Kubu's size, love of food, but also to his determination. That, allied with the observation skills taught to him by a childhood Bushman friend have served him well in his career.

The puzzle opens (with Kipling's apt quote that 'There's more things told than are true, / And more things true than are told') when two guests turn up dead at the Jackalberry bush tourist camp, surrounded by both river and swamp in northern Botswana, close to Chobe National Park and to the border with Zambia. Goodluck Tinubu's death looks like a ritual killing (in the manner common to terrorists in the Zimbabwe bush war) while South African Langa was simply 'bludgeoned to death and dumped in a gully.' Another guest, Zondo, quickly comes under suspicion because he left at short notice the morning after the murders. An Author's Note at the beginning of the book summarizes the bitter struggle in 60s Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and a set of maps also help set the scene for the reader.

Detective Sergeant Mooka (commonly known as 'Tatwa', Setswana for giraffe) is first on the scene, but Kubu's boss Mabaku soon dispatches him to help, because of the case's 'sensitive aspects' (the Zimbabwe connection and the upcoming African Union meeting in Gaborone) and potential impact on tourism. Kubu learns that the camp concession is owned by Salome McGlashan whose family was slaughtered by guerillas during the Zimbabwe civil war. Her associate Morné du Pisanie (known as Dupie) was once a neighbor in Zimbabwe and fought on the government side in the Scouts. Other colorful characters include cook Moremi whose best friend is a go-away bird, and two sisters who are writers.

Tracing the victims' fingerprints, Kubu and Tatwa learn that Goodluck supposedly died in the Zimbabwe war (hence his titular second death); that Langa was a South African police officer who suspected Goodluck of drug running; and that Zondo is a Zimbabwe dissident. The tangled web gets even more so as mercenaries show up at the camp (after the police leave) seeking a suitcase that had been in Goodluck's possession. Believing that Kubu now has it, they threaten his family and kidnap someone close to him - which is where his wife Joy and travel agent sister-in-law Pleasant show their mettle. Then more of the camp guests start to die. Kubu suspects murder - and that they are short of one victim.

As always, Kubu's determination and thoroughness pay off - he not only solves the murders but learns a great deal about the sort of man Goodluck Tinubu was and the life he led. Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (who write together as Michael Stanley) have really hit their stride with The Second Death Of Goodluck Tinubu, once again giving their burgeoning set of fans an unusual mix of poltical thriller, police procedural and cozy mystery. Don't miss it!

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