“Michael Stanley” is the penname of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip, about whom the book tells us nothing: my impression is that they’re fairly young, that they’ve lived and travelled extensively in Botswana and South Africa and know quite a lot about how both countries work, about policing there, and about diamond mining — and, alas, that they should probably read quite a few more good detective stories before attempting another one. Good solid stuff and excellent material for a thriller. But the book is patchy — perhaps because the co-authors have written separate sections or chapters, or because they lack literary skill. While Kubu is real and decidedly fleshly, other characters are wooden and almost interchangeable, and the authors’ ear for dialogue is woeful. Also, there’s too much to-ing and fro-ing to no particularly good purpose, although it’s not unpleasant to be transported from Botswana to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay and back. Worst is that the villains, upper crust types, mine bosses and the like, are ditchwater dull, scrofulous personalities who couldn’t run a spaza shop, let alone a multi-billion-rand international business.