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The Kalahari is a huge area which covers 350,000 square miles of the west of southern Africa including much of Botswana. It ranges from dramatic red sand dunes in the heart of the desert to acacia scrub-veld which supports a surprising variety of life. It is also the last refuge of the San or Bushman peoples. The oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, these nomads with their diverse cultures and languages have developed a lifestyle in tune with the arid environment, but one which requires them to move with the seasons and the intermittent rainfall. Little of this remains; most of the Bushman people now live in the towns or in settlements established by the Botswana government around the Central Kalahari Game Reserve where they can obtain food and water and medical and school services. But where there traditions are fading
In the north west of Botswana is Tsodilo - a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most remarkable collections of rock paintings in the world. A group of four rocky hills rise dramatically and in isolation from the desert and is venerated by the Bushmen as the site of creation.
The story starts with a pilgrimage sixty years ago to a similar place also hidden deep in the Kalahari.
Surrounded by a group of Bushmen, a ranger at a game reserve in the Kalahari is discovered at the bottom of a ravine. At first it is assumed that he fell, but it turns out that he was attacked. Although they claim to have chanced upon the injured man, the Bushmen are arrested.
Khumanego, Kubu's Bushman school friend and now an advocate for the Bushman people, approaches Kubu and asks him to intervene. Khumanego claims the men are innocent and that their arrest is due to racist antagonism from the local police. Kubu investigates the case, resulting in the release of the suspects. But then another man is found murdered in a similar fashion
Then a third man is murdered and Kubu realizes that the key to the mystery must lie in the depths of the Kalahari itself. And there it is unravelled in a most unpleasant way ...
Click here to read the prologue and first chapter.
Death of the Mantis is published by HarperCollins: