The back story of DEADLY HARVEST is the pervasive influence of witch doctors throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Most people believe in them and their powers to some extent. Usually they are traditional healers. That is, they use a combination of herbal remedies and suggestion to help people. For the most part, these potions - called muti - are made from plants but, occasionally, they contain some part of an animal's body, such as the heart of a lion for strength. However, there are a few witch doctors, regarded as very powerful, who also use human body parts.
This may sound more like horror fantasy than mystery, but regrettably there have been many such muti killings in recent years. Because the victims are unrelated to their abductors, and because people are too scared of the witch doctors to get involved, the cases are generally unsolved.
There was an infamous case of a young girl, Segametsi Mogomotsi, which occurred in Mochudi in 1994. Segametsi's murder caused the community to come out in several violent protests against police inaction, after which one person was shot by a policeman. The government eventually felt it necessary to conduct an independent enquiry, so it called in Scotland Yard from the United Kingdom. But its report was never released.
In DEADLY HARVEST, Kubu teams up with a new recruit to the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department, Samantha Khama, to take on the belief in witch doctors and magic -particularly black magic. Samantha is the CID's first female detective, and she battles to define a role for herself in the male-dominated culture.
Girls have been disappearing. The rumor is that they are being abducted for muti, but the cases are allowed to go cold. That's not good enough for Samantha, for whom the issue is personal. She persuades CID director Mabaku to let her dig into past cases and enlists Kubu's initially rather unenthusiastic help. But together they discover a pattern to the disappearances.
Meanwhile, the father of one of the missing girls becomes fixated on the idea that his daughter's abduction is linked to the recent amazing success of the leader of a new political party, and he takes the law into his own hands. Investigating, Kubu and Samantha find muti containing human material in the politician's home, confirming their worst fears. They are told of a witch doctor, widely feared, whose power is believed to be drawn from the use of human body parts. But he is thought to be invisible unless he chooses to take physical form.
There is another victim, and Kubu and Samantha are thrust into a harrowing race to stop the serial murderer and his influential and unscrupulous clients.