Facets of Death
PublisherOrenda Books
Date Published29 April 2021
Price£ 8.99

Facets of Death

by Michael Stanley

A young man joins the Botswana police CID and is immediately caught up in a diamond heist in which three guards are killed in cold blood.


This is the seventh in the series featuring David ‘Kubu’ (hippo) Bengu, from the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, known as Michael Stanley. Facets of Death returns to the 1990s and thus pre-dates the books issued so far. The portly Kubu has just graduated from university and as the book opens he enters the portals of Gaborone CID as its newest Detective Sergeant.

Kubu is put to work on the strange disappearance of aircraft luggage somewhere between Botswana and foreign destinations but is soon pulled off that job to focus on a more pressing case, an attack on an armoured car carrying diamonds. Of the three guards on the car, two have been shot at close range and the other is missing.

Assistant Superintendent Mabaku quickly recognises Kubu is quick on the uptake and gives him several vital tasks. The more usual route for the diamonds would be by air, but the land route was substituted when an explosion put the aircraft out of action, suggesting that the heist was planned with some sophistication and with inside knowledge.

This is reinforced by the fact that the car attacked was one of three sent off at the same time, the other two carrying similar boxes but containing only gravel. The ability of the robbers to identify the correct car strongly suggests collusion with someone from the diamond mine where the gems were extracted. There are a limited number of possibilities and Kubu is full of ideas as to how to discover the culprit.

As in many previous stories, ‘muti’ (traditional medicine) comes into the story, if only as a means to frighten those on the periphery of the robbery. Kubu, however, finds an innovative way to use the link with muti to obtain vital evidence and secure a conviction.

The book sustains the charm of previous ones in the series, providing a police procedural with a glimpse into an exotic location and in this instance the particular appeal of the bright and keen copper full of enthusiasm for his job. Kubu also meets Joy, a character who will return in later books, falling immediately under her spell.

Reviewed 24 July 2021 by Chris Roberts