Fine whodunnit by African author

Stanley is one of a new breed of African authors who write entertaining books.

Stanley is one of a new breed of African authors who write entertaining books.

It is a refreshing change from the heavy political tomes that are almost compulsory reading in our country.

A Carrion Death is set in Botswana and involves murder and mayhem in the diamond and cattle industry. The story is almost a travelogue as it weaves from Gaborone, the capital, to the desert and wildlife resorts.

Assistant Superintendent David Kubu Bengu is assigned to investigate a bleached corpse found near an animal water hole out in the desert.

The body has no identification and an added complication is that no one has been reported missing.

Bengu, a burly man who is overfond of his food, eats his way heartily through the book while trying to find the murderer.

He makes no headway as the bodies pile up and he is not allowed to interrogate the bigwigs who run Botswana's economy. His boss puts pressure on him and yet restricts his investigation.

Several lucky breakthroughs give him an idea of who the corpse is, but he immediately refuses to believe his own instincts.

It is only when he reads about the death in South Africa of an heir to a cattle and diamond empire that he puts two and two together.

The ending is surprising but not really unexpected as Bengu moves in for the kill.

A Carrion Death has a better plot than previous South African offerings. It has fewer geographical, language and racial mistakes than other books that one discards before the end.