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Death of the Mantis: A Detective Kubu Mystery (Detective Kubu Series) Paperback – September 6, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
Book 3 of 3 in the Detective Kubu Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“DEATH OF THE MANTIS is the best book I’ve read in a very long time. A fantastic read. Brilliant!” (Louise Penny, New York Times bestselling author of Bury Your Dead)

“DEATH OF THE MANTIS is the best book yet in one of the best series going: a serious novel with a mystery at its core that takes us places we’ve never been, thrills and informs us, and leaves us changed by the experience. I loved this book.” (Timothy Hallinan, author of The Queen of Patpong and A Nail Through the Heart)

“Assistant Superintendent Kubu is back! A page-turner from start to finish. Michael Stanley’s enthralling series is a must-read for anyone who enjoys clever plotting, terrific writing, and a fascinating glimpse of today’s Africa. Kubu—DEATH OF THE MANTIS—Michael Stanley: the perfect mystery trifecta for any crime fan.” (Charles Todd, New York times bestselling author of A Matter of Justice)

“Impossible to put down, this immensely readable third entry. . . delivers the goods. Kubu’s painstaking detecting skills make him a sort of Hercule Poirot of the desert. . . . This series can be recommended to a wide gamut of readers.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Kubu’s third recorded case is again alive with local color and detail and, refreshingly, offers his fullest mystery plot yet.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

In the southern Kalahari area of Botswana—an arid landscape of legends that speak of lost cities, hidden wealth, and ancient gods—a fractious ranger named Monzo is found dying from a severe head wound in a dry ravine. Three Bushmen surround the doomed man, but are they his killers or there to help? Detective David “Kubu” Bengu is on the case, an investigation that his old school friend Khumanego claims is motivated by racist antagonism on the part of the local police. But when a second bizarre murder, and then a third, seem to point also to the nomadic tribe, the intrepid Kubu must journey into the depths of the Kalahari to uncover the truth. What he discovers there will test all his powers of detection . . . and his ability to remain alive.

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Product Details

  • Series: Detective Kubu Series (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062000373
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062000378
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G. C. Brown on September 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
It's always gratifying to see writers mature. With the third book in the Detective Kubu series Michale Stanley have hit their ("their" as in Micheal Sears and Stanly Trollip) stride. The first two books in the series were good...but Mantis is GREAT. The storytelling is so tight (and taut!) that you don't want to put the book down. I found myself at 4 AM saying "just one more chapter...". And, as with the the other books, Botswana itself is just as much a character as the people that inhabit the book. I can't wait for book four!
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The third Detective Kubu mystery takes us into the elusive world of the First People of Botswana, commonly called Bushmen. Kubu had a Bushman friend in primary school who taught him how to look beyond the obvious. This wily approach to reading subtle signs in nature eventually led Kubu to police work.

And so it's quite fitting that this book brings Kubu back to the Bushman culture and worldview.

Death of the Mantis has a simpler plot than previous books, so I won't say anything about it - just that I really appreciated the tight circularity of the story. The Michael Stanley team gets more adept with every Kubu mystery!

I loved spending days sweating and freezing in the Kalahari Desert. I was fascinated to learn something about Bushman arrow poisons and hallucinogens. And it was a pleasure watching Kubu extricate himself from impossible situations.

The tightness of the plot is only apparent at the end! Throughout, both Kubu and the reader get sidetracked and bemused repeatedly. And the story is rich in characters and incidents. We meet shy Bushmen who know how to make themselves invisible, murder victims as out of control as the murderer, and detectives with warring theories. Meanwhile Kubu's love affair with his wife intensifies, despite the complications of a new baby.

Serious Kubu fans can try making his favorite non-alcoholic drink, Steelworks. See instructions (of a sort) on page 38.

I always appreciate the maps and Authors Notes in these mysteries. It seems that certain episodes in this book really happened. And the bed and breakfast farm near Tsabong actually exists. Wish I could go there. But at least I got a fictional visit!

Kubu hates waiting around for anything, and I do too. Hope the next book is coming soon.
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Format: Paperback
I always have a book with me and, often, when I am asked about the book and I mention the title, the author, and the genre, the response is, "I don't read mysteries. I don't like Agatha Christie." Fact is, I don't like Agatha Christie. If that style was all there is in mystery, I wouldn't be reading mysteries either but the popularity of the genre shows that most readers do know how far mysteries have come, incorporating societal problems into stories, making them more believable and more thought-provoking.

Michael Stanley's DEATH OF THE MANTIS is a case in point. The body of a game ranger is found in the Kalahari desert in Botswana. When the police arrive, they find three Bushmen with the dying man, trying to give him water. Monzo has suffered a severe injury to his head and he dies before reaching the hospital. The men who discover the body are arrested for the murder. There is no evidence that the Bushmen were involved but in Botswana it is case closed, no need to look for other suspects.

Assistant Superintendent David Bengu, known as Kubu to everyone, receives a call from a childhood friend, Khumanego, a Bushmen. He and David had attended school together, drawn to each other because neither fit in. But they have lost touch over the years and each knows little about the adult life of the other. As boys, Khumanego had taken Kubu to the desert and showed him how to survive. Now Kubu tries to survive among animals of the two-legged variety and serpents more dangerous than those who hide under rocks. Khumanego is an advocate and spokesman for his people, helping the Bushmen whose life style is minunderstood and whose group is denegrated.

Khumanego tells Kubu, "The Bushmen see things very differently from other peoples....
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Anybody who has enjoyed "The Gods Must Be Crazy" movies will feel an immediate affinity to this novel, the third Detective Kubu story by South African writing team "Michael Stanley" (Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip). While the movies may have given us a somewhat idealistic view of the life of the "Bushmen"*) in the wide expanse of the Kalahari Desert, the reality of their survival between their traditional way of life and long-held beliefs set against expectations and demands of modern Botswana society is much more realistically depicted here. While the clash of cultures is an important theme in this novel, it does not at all slow down the fast pace narrative, instead it contributes to this being a substantive, totally absorbing page-turner.

For those, not familiar with the central character, suffice to say that `Kubu', meaning hippopotamus in Setswana, is the nickname for rotund, food loving, opera singing, jovial Assistant Superintendent and family man David Bengu, who stands out for his inimitable approach to criminal investigations that he is called upon to deal with. His boss, Mabaku, describes him as a man "whose emotions sometimes get in the way of his brain". Whether that is a weakness or strength, it is being tested in his new case. A friend from his early school days, Bushman Khumanego, begs Kubu to intervene on behalf of three Bushmen, arrested for the murder of a park ranger. While there is only questionable circumstantial evidence, placing the three at the scene of the wounded ranger, the local police have a tendency to blame the indigenous people first and look for evidence later if at all.
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