Monday, October 4, 2010

Warm up to a Hippo

Not to play up the librarian stereotype, but I never read or was interested in mysteries until I returned to librarianship and started working for Fauquier County Public Library.

Well, stereotype or not, I'm hooked. With mysteries, what I usually do is find an author I like (and prefer foreign vs. domestic settings) and then read everything they've put out -- Donna Leon (especially appreciate the descriptions of Venice and food), Elizabeth George (gotta love Sargeant Havers' spunk) and Deborah Crombie (the English settings and personable characters go well with a cup of tea) are a few of my favorites.

For the past year or so, I've been exploring chilly Scandinavian crime novels, specifically Henning Mankell (I seem to gravitate to crabby protagonists), Karin Fosum (the best -- can't put them down!) and the like.

But what about Stieg Larrson's Millennium Trilogy? Can I admit that I just don't get what all the fuss is about? While I read books 1 and 2, I couldn't bother to finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. While I normally will finish a book, even if I don't like it much, I knew I better get the latest Larrson back into circulation (will this book ever drop off the holds list?) and get out of the cold, try something new.

Which brings me to Michael Stanley and his (or should I say "their," as it's actually two South African authors) Detective Kubu Mystery Series. Enough of the unforgiving cold and bleakness of Sweden, take me to the warm climes of Botswana and the amiable Assistant Superintendent David ('Kubu,' a nickname that means "hippopotamus") Bengu.

So far there are two books in the series, A Carrion Death and The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu. Like my favorite Nordic reads, these are procedural in nature. While both titles provide the classic elements of mystery and intrigue, what really sets them apart are the engaging characters, particularly meal-obsessed Kubu and his beloved wife Joy, and the post-colonial African setting. I always enjoy reading about the culture and politics (the good and the bad) of distant lands, and after reading these two titles, I'm left wanting to read/learn more about/visit contemporary southern Africa.

If you're tired of hearing about Stieg Larrson and have had your fill of the usual mystery procedurals, I encourage you to give detective Kubu a try.

Alison @ Warrenton

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a huge mystery fan, but I did enjoy Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January series (haven't read the entire thing). It's set in 19th century New Orleans and features a doctor-turned-musician of biracial heritage. First book is called A Free Man of Color.