**Blog Tour** Dying To Live by Michael Stanley #GuestPost @detectivekuba @OrendaBooks

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I’m delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Dying To Live by Micheal Stanley which is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books. Peter James describes this book as ‘A wonderful, original voice – McCall Smith with a dark edge and even darker underbelly’ and the good news, Dying To Live was published on the 30th June 2017 so you don’t even have to wait to get your hands on a copy.

To celebrate I have a really fascinating guest Post from the authors about The Bushmen people of the Kalahari, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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A Culture at Odds

The Bushmen people of the Kalahari are at the centre of the latest Detective Kubu mystery – Dying to Live. It’s a Bushman who is found dead at the start of the story. At first it seems to be a natural death, but then the police decide that, in fact, he was killed. The more they look into his death, the more confusing it becomes. His body seems young on the inside but old on the outside. There’s an ancient black-powder bullet lodged in his abdomen, but no entry scar. And then his body is stolen from the morgue.

The Bushmen have been nomadic for hundreds of thousands of years. As other population groups crowded them, they moved into the arid regions of southern Africa and developed a very successful, if Spartan, lifestyle. They would dig for water and suck it out of the ground through grass straws, or find fluid in Tsama melons. If they found natural water, they would always leave some for those who came after; sharing was a survival strategy. They moved with the seasons, following game which they hunted using bows and poisoned arrows. The poisons make a story in themselves, ranging from snake venom, through extraordinary desert plants, to an extraction from the larva of a beetle which is so poisonous there’s no known antidote.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century. (There’s some pretty sickening stuff in the years we’re skipping, including a period when governments issued licenses to hunt Bushmen.) Now much of the Kalahari is declared as the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Diamond mining drives the Botswana economy. Bushmen numbers have declined, and in 1997, the Government of Botswana started to relocate the Bushman to a permanent settlement outside the game reserve. In 2005 they forced the last of the Bushmen to move.

How you interpret the situation depends on your perspective. Here’s a superficial summary of the way some of the Bushman leaders see it, and how support groups like Survival International see it:

The Bushmen have always lived in the Kalahari. Fences and private land ownership—which is alien to them—interferes with their nomadic behaviours, and rules concerning hunting force them near starvation. Their culture is disrespected and is being destroyed by the change in environment, and legal constraints in which they’ve had no say. In order to keep the Kalahari for tourism and—according to some—diamond mining, the Bushmen are being forced into settlements little better than concentration camps on the verges of the land they once regarded as their own. Yes, there is some compensation, but this is soon frittered away leaving nothing. Financial planning is completely outside their ken.

And here is how the Botswana government sees it:

The government has a constitutional obligation to provide appropriate infrastructure for all its citizens. This includes proper schools, health care, water and sanitation. Furthermore, the Kalahari is remote and inaccessible, an ecological treasure that must be preserved. Discrimination on race is forbidden by the constitution, so if the Bushmen live there, how are other population groups to be prevented from living and hunting there? And now the Bushmen hunt with guns rather than bows and arrows. Their nomadic behaviour has changed to informal settlements where water has to be supplied by the government by road, rather than found in natural depressions or melons. Crudely put, the traditional culture is already dead, only the inconvenience remains. Thus planned settlements set up in appropriate places with schools and services is the answer. Appropriate compensation is paid to the people who have to move. They have a new and better life ahead.

In the wide gap between these two viewpoints is a variety of groups who tried to negotiate a scenario which would bring the two sides closer together. Nevertheless, with such extreme perspectives, and the muscle behind each side, it was almost inevitable that the matter would end in the Botswana High Court. In 2006, the presiding judge of the Court was the remarkable Unity Dow—first woman High Court judge in Botswana, member of the Kenyan Constitutional Court, writer, and now minister of education. Broadly, the three judges ruled in favour of the Bushmen. In the judgement, Dow said that the case was ‘ultimately about a people demanding dignity and respect. It is a people saying in essence: “Our way of life may be different, but it is worthy of respect. We may be changing and getting closer to your way of life, but give us a chance to decide what we want to carry with us into the future”.’ When we met her on a trip to Gaborone some years later, we asked her whether she felt the issues had been resolved by the ‘the most expensive and longest-running trial’ Botswana has ever had. She just smiled sadly and shook her head.

While researching our book, we visited New Xade, the settlement established by the government to the west of the Kalahari game reserve a hundred kilometres from anywhere. It’s a depressing place, there is little being done there, and little to do. It’s even some way off the main road into the game reserve, itself a dirt track. People pass it by; there’s nothing there they want.

But in Dying to Live we suppose that there is something there that people find they want very much. Something that kept the dead old Bushman young.

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger.

The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

Author links: Website     Twitter     Facebook

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Book description

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Buying Links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orenda Books, Michael Stanley for the fascinating guest post  and Anne Cater for organising another fabulous blog tour.

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The Detriment by David Videcette #BookReview @DavidVidecette

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Book description

June 2007: a barbaric nail bomb is planted outside a London nightclub, a spy is found dead in his garden, and a blazing Jeep is driven into Glasgow airport. Three events bound by an earth-shattering connection that should have remained buried forever.

From the author of the The Theseus Paradox, the smash-hit 7/7 thriller based on true events, comes the sequel about a real-life mystery that threatens to destroy a nation. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan must uncover how a series of astonishing events are inextricably linked, before the past closes in on him.

img_1258Ever since I read The Theseus Paradox I’ve been eagerly anticipating the second book in the Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan series. Sometimes when I anticipate great things for a novel I can be left disappointed, but I’m thrilled to report if anything The Detriment takes this series to a whole new level, it’s the definition of a “thriller”,with terrorism, murder, secrets and corruption at the heart of the story this novel made for a fast paced, explosive read.

Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan now here’s a character who intrigues me, his peers consider him to be a loose cannon, a detective whose a liability and takes unnecessary risks, and his personal life is complicated to say the least, but as the author digs deeper into Jake’s behaviour you  realise this is a man on the edge, whose seen and experienced terrible things and it’s only now his emotions are are beginning to surface which make him a very credible protagonist. 

The Detriment opens with a car bomb outside a London night club and what follows makes for a very intense and satisfying read.  I found myself reluctant to put this book down as I was eager to see how all the threads to this rivetting tale would piece together. There were so many elements of this tale that I enjoyed and amid it all there is controversy that will leave you questioning Jake’s decisions, he certainly doesn’t have an easy ride in this novel!

What I really love about David Videcette’s writing is the fact not only do his novels make for a very original and compelling read, but as The Detriment is based on real real life events  mixed with fiction you can’t help but wonder how much of this novel is actual fiction , the whole tale is just far too chillingly credible. Would I recommend this book? I most certainly would, especially if you are looking for a thriller that’s highly original and jam packed with intrigue and suspense.

Print Length: 358 pages

Publisher: Videcette Limited (29 Jun. 2017)

Pre-order kindle links: Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

Pre-order paperback:    Bookdepository with free delivery world wide

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About David Videcette

A former Scotland Yard investigator with twenty years’ policing experience, including counter-terror operations and organised crime, David was a lead detective on the 7/7 London bombings investigation.

He’s been awarded several police commendations, including one for outstanding detective work and perseverance which led to his discovery of a 7/7 bomb factory during Operation Theseus.

Links to the author:  Authors Books     Website    Twitter     Facebook     LinkedIn

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**Blog tour** Reconciliation For The Dead Paul E. Hardisty @orendabooks @Hardisty_Paul

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Today I’m delighted to be the next stop on the Paul E Hardisty author of Reconciliation For The Dead blog tour. 

Reconciliation For The Dead is published by one of my favourite publishers on the planet Orenda Books, Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction. This book is available in both kindle and paperback  and you don’t even have to wait to get a copy as it’s already been published

To celebrate the occasion author Paul E. Hardisty has written a fascinating guest post, so without further ado…….

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Engineering a Novel By Paul E. Hardisty

I was trained as a scientist and an engineer. In these disciplines, we are taught to apply scientific principles and mathematics to understand the forces, flows and stresses that govern a problem, and optimise a design to deliver the desired outcome. Over years of training and practice, this structured way of thinking becomes almost second nature, a part of you.

So, when I approach the writing of a novel, it won’t be much of a surprise when I say that I use the same approach. Even though it is a work of art, I engineer the novel.

First, I need to understand the problem. What is it that I am trying to accomplish with the book? Where do I want to take the reader, and why? What do I want to have the reader see, feel, think, experience, and what images do I want to leave them with? In other words, I need to have a firm idea, in my own mind, of the purpose of the book. For me, entertaining the reader is important, but it is not enough. I also want to inform, or evoke certain emotions, and to challenge the reader to consider other viewpoints than perhaps they might have had going in. In my new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead (third book in the Claymore Straker series), set in apartheid-era South Africa, the goals were to show readers how Clay became the man we meet first in Yemen during the 1994 civil war in The Abrupt Physics of Dying, and then in its sequel The Evolution of Fear. I also wanted to expose the reader to a little-known conflict, and illustrate why apartheid, and the ridding of that scourge from the earth, is still relevant today.

When I know where I want the book to go, I need to determine how to get there. For me, this means developing, or designing, the full narrative arc of the book, before I start writing. This arc is made of up a series of inter-connected and inter-dependent scenes. And if these pieces are not joined together well, the thing will fail when put under stress. Sometimes, I think of it a bit like a bridge, with each span and beam holding up the others. Sometimes, these designs can be quite complex, and in their own way, I hope, beautiful. In the first two books of the series, I used a simple time-forward structure, with events largely unfolding in un-creased chronological order. In Reconciliation for the Dead, I needed a more complicated structure. The core of the novel is a flashback to Clay’s time in the war as a young paratrooper in the early 1980’s. Interspersed within this are snippets of transcript (recreated) from the 1996 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, where Clay gives testimony, having returned to South Africa fifteen years after the war. This is buttressed on either end (by prologue and epilogue) with short scenes that take place after Clay has finished testifying, and is in Mozambique contemplating his future. You can call it a prequel set within the envelope of a sequel.

Once the structure is designed, I can start writing (building). I find that knowing where I want to go, what I am trying to say, and how I am going to get there, gives me a sense of certainty every morning when I sit down to write. Each day I plan to work on a specific span or section. Because I know where it fits in the whole structure, its unique role, and how it fits with the others, I can focus on the prose itself, and try to create the most beautiful and powerful imagery I can. Bit by bit, day by day, the whole structure rises, until one day, I have a first draft.

Then comes what I call the testing and infilling stage. The main structure is there, and (hopefully!) has achieved its overall objectives. Now, I weave in any additional detail and context that is required, not only to strengthen the whole, but to make the parts stand strongly together. This is where expert editorial support and review from others can be so helpful.
I have always felt that in science and engineering, there can be beauty. As I write a novel, I always get a strong sense that art and science are really not so far apart.

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Canadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.

In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

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Book description

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make.

Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

‘A solid, meaty thriller – Hardisty is a fine writer and Straker is a great lead character’ Lee Child

‘A trenchant and engaging thriller that unravels this mysterious land in cool, precise sentences’ Stav Sherez, Catholic Herald

‘Just occasionally, a book comes along to restore your faith in a genre – and Paul Hardisty does this in spades’ Sharon Wheeler, Crime Review

This is a remarkably well-written, sophisticated novel in which the people and places, as well as frequent scenes of violent action, all come alive on the page…’ Literary Review

‘Hardisty doesn’t put a foot wrong in this forceful, evocative thriller … the author’s deep knowledge of the settings never slows down the non-stop action, with distant echoes of a more-moral minded Jack Reacher or Jason Bourne’ Maxim Jakubowski

My thanks to Karen over at Orenda books who publishes the most amazing books, Anne cater who organises such brilliant blog tours for Orenda books, and Paul Hardisty for his guest post.

As my post doesn’t include a review you may want to check out some of my fellow bloggers reviews who are on the blog tour.

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