Friday, May 10, 2013

DEADLY HARVEST by Michael Stanley

Michael Stanley’s Deadly Harvest is a chilling story simply told.

Botswana CID Assistant Superintendent David Bengu and his protégée Samantha Khama investigate two seemingly unrelated crimes.

Samantha is the first female detective in the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. Bengu is nicknamed Kubu (hippopotamus) because of his huge size.

The story opens with the kidnapping (and subsequent murder) of a young girl. Samantha has a special interest in the crime.

Often the police do little follow up on missing children, especially if the children come from the lower classes.

As Samantha investigates, she becomes convinced someone is murdering young girls to use their body parts in muti. 

Muti is a magic potion created by a witch doctor. Most muti contains herbs and animal remains. The witch doctors who create it use it for healing and other purposes. But there is a class of muti created by evil witch doctors. That potion contains human remains harvested from chosen victims.

Evil muti gives those who have bought the muti special strength and power.

As we read along, we become aware that some civil servants and politicians purchase evil muti. Even some police officials may have sold themselves to the psychotic witch doctor to gain promotion and power.

That brings us to the second seemingly unrelated crime. Someone murders prominent political opposition leader Bill Marumo.

And the story goes from there.

As I said before, this is a chilling story. We meet an evil witch doctor, a psychopathic killer who strikes fear even in the innocent. This witch doctor seems to have the power to kill by casting spells. He (or she) is purported to be invisible. All the kidnappings and murders are committed, not by the witch doctor, but by surrogates who have sold out to evil.

I love the Kubu stories. They are socially conscious, true to life, and filled with interesting characters. I always learn about Botswana when I read about Kubu.

As in the other books, Kubu’s family plays an integral part in the story.

This time, Kubu watches his father sink into Alzheimer’s dementia. Kubu and his wife Joy take on a little girl with HIV, a child left alone in part because of evil witch doctors.

These books have very human characters in what are sometimes awful situations.

I’ve read all the Kubu novels so far. I recommend them all.

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