Thursday, November 5, 2015

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY by Michael Stanley

Michael Stanley’s A Death in the Family is an excellent, wonderfully plotted, story.

Someone kills Kubu’s beloved father. Kubu (which means hippopotamus) is Botswanan Assistant CID Superintendent David 'Kubu' Bengu.

Kubu’s superior Jacob Mabaku takes Kubu off the case. The obese Kubu with his terrible temper, voracious appetite, and sharp intellect is left with nothing to do except to interfere. He is so upset he only nibbles at his food.

But his interference gets him in more trouble. Finally Mabaku assigns his best detective to another case, the apparent suicide of a government Department of Mines official. Kubu ends up investigating a mining scheme which climaxes with a murderous riot.

As always, Kubu is Kubu. He loses his temper, almost destroys both cases, and finally works out the solution, not just to his mining case, but also to the murder of his father.

Michael Stanley fills this story with humor, anger, and family love. Kubu’s relationship with his superior Mabaku deepens. And in an unexpected way, the story’s ending breaks your heart.

A Death in the Family is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The plot comes together in a special way.

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

P.S. As an aside, I can’t help but note--This book’s title made me think of another great book with the same title, one of the best books I’ve ever read--James Agee’s A Death in the Family.


R.T. said...

I am intrigued by the setting you've highlighted, and your fine review means that I will add Stanley to my list of "must read" authors. But your review also suggests a question: Why do readers (especially Americans?) seem to embrace crime novels with such exotic settings? (I ask the question because of a trend I've detected in book publishing over the last twenty years.) Well, while we ponder that question, I will also head over to my library webpage for a Stanley-search. All the best from R. T. at

Mathew Paust said...

That does it--I have got to get me a Kubu mystery! I should also revisit Agee's novel. Thanks for the reminder.

Joe Barone said...

R.T., For me, I am first attracted by good writing. But then I enjoy going places I'll never be able to go myself. I also enjoy looking into the workings of other cultures. Many of these "exotic" settings help me do that.

Matthew, I predict the Kubu series will be one you would like. They build so you might try to start with the first one A CARRION DEATH.