Welcome to my stop on the Orenda Books blog tour for Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (the writing duo made up of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip). I have never read a novel in the “Sunshine Noir” genre so I was keen to dive in and begin my reading. Slow burning, dark and intricate, Dying to Live was a novel that fascinated me from the first pages.
When a bushman turns up dead near a gaming reserve, the death is written off as an accident. However, during the autopsy, it is revealed that although the busman appears to be elderly, his organs are quite young. When the body goes missing, a puzzled pathologist phones Detective Kubu Bengu who begins an investigation into the case. A story of corruption, greed and danger, Kubu must weave through it all in order to find the truth.
This novel is the third in the series that features Detective Kubu. However, this was the first novel that I have read with this character, but, I am happy to report, I had absolutely no issues reading this novel as a standalone. There is ample information that allows the reader to truly understand any back text and character motivation.
I really enjoyed the characters in this novel. I loved the protagonist, Detective Kubu. There was such a calming nature about him; I could picture how deep and melodic his voice would sound when I read his text. I also found myself drawn to his partner, Samantha Khama. Not only does she have a fantastic name but she was fierce and opinionated. I loved watching these polar opposites interact.
One of the things I was most impressed about with Dying to Live was the setting and details; the author(s) did a brilliant job at making it come to life. South African culture is littered within the pages from the language, the food and the descriptions; I was completely immersed in it. I found this to be such a breath of fresh air for me; it isn’t often that I see that type of diversity within a text. I was really impressed with the witch doctor subplot, which is something I found incredibly interesting (even if it was embellished!).
My only pet peeve with this novel (and it was small) was the splitting up of the text into parts. There are sections (Part I, Part II etc) however, there didn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason for them. There was not a change in narration or anything drastically different. I felt like I was intently looking for a difference to justify the parts and it distracted me a bit from being completely into the plot.
Overall, I was completely impressed with Dying to Live and would absolutely go back and read the other novels in this series. I will be eagerly anticipating the next novel in this series!