I first read Dying to Live by Michael Stanley a couple of years ago, but I love it as much now as i did back then.
I'd never really thought about the concept of sunshine noir before. It seems like quite the contradiction even pairing those two words together and yet that is what this is. Despite the pacing and the tone of this book being slower than your typical noir offering - this is about the desert, the bush and towns and cities of Botswana after all - do not let that fool you. There is still a really high level of tension and suspense which is somehow only heightened by the relative tranquility and remoteness of the setting.
Not only is this not your every day noir setting, this is not your every day case either. From the off there is something very odd about the crime - the body of an old bushman found abandoned on the edge of a game reserve. And yet nothing can appear quite as odd as what the pathologist uncovers during the post mortem. For this man is as big a contradiction as the idea of 'sunshine noir'. Old on the outside, young on the inside; nobody can quite determine just how old he is. Many say he has been around for decades, that he has a secret 'muti' ingredient which keeps him as sprightly as a teenager but this simply can't be true. But then two more people go missing, one an anthropologist and one a renowned Witch Doctor, and thus begins the mystery.
This was my first Kubu story I instantly fell in love with both character and setting. The authors have done such a brilliant job of recreating the Botswana landscape and culture in their writing that you could almost feel the oppressive heat rising from each page, feel the sand as it brushed against your skin and sense the unease amongst the local people for the disruption that the police investigation caused them. You also get an overwhelming sense of the man, of Detective Kubu, as you see not only the dedication he has to his job, but the love he has for his family. It is a rare crime story in which family can feature so strongly without taking over and yet there is a perfect balance and blend of the two here.
I was intrigued from first page until last. Loved it.