THRILLER The plot of the South African author- duo's second novel is intriguing enough to make you want to finish it. R. AISHWARYA
A Deadly Trade written by the South African duo Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip takes place in a rare and exotic background for crime fiction — Botswana in Southern Africa. This book is second in the series with the first one, A Carrion Death, being a successful debut.
It all starts when detective ‘Tatwa' Mooka begins investigating the brutal murder of Goodluck Tinubu inside his tent in the Jackalberry bush camp in northern Botswana. A few hours later it is found that another resident of the camp Sipho Langa has been bludgeoned to death on a nearby slope.
It is unanimously believed by all the other occupants of the camp that Ishmael Zondo, one more inhabitant who had left the campsite urgently in the morning, must have committed the murders.
The real action begins when the protagonist of the story Superintendent David ‘Kubu' Bengu arrives at the scene of crime and discovers an enigma about the mutilated Tinubu, that he was killed in the Rhodesian civil war 30 years earlier.
From there the novel progresses at a slow and steady pace with small surprises at every corner. Initially, there seems to be many characters to remember, but later everyone becomes crucial to the plot. After getting used to Sheldon's and Archer's breakneck speed of story-telling, Michael-Stanley's meticulous technique exasperates one a little.
The story has an intriguing motif that spans four countries of Africa — Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It also provides glimpses about the repercussions of the civil war that occurred three decades ago and the situation of turmoil in the current government of Zimbabwe.
The subtext of the story also involves international drug trafficking and organised crime.
The narrative encircling various subplots gets murkier when two more campers are killed in different places and the managers of the camp are attacked. In the interim Kubu's wife Joy is hassled and sister-in-law Pleasant has been kidnapped. Kubu resolves these and proceeds to explore the past of Tinubu. Gradually all the puzzles are unravelled one by one by Kubu with the help of his associates.
The temperament of the robust and food-indulgent detective nicknamed Kubu (meaning hippopotamus in Sestwana) is delightful and well built.
A Deadly Trade is not exactly ‘unputdownable' but once we start reading it we would not be contented until we finish reading it.
Aishwarya is a III Year CSE student at RMD Engineering College.
Title: A deadly Trade Author: Michael-Stanley Publisher: Hachette India Price: Rs. 295