Saturday, March 03, 2018

Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk by C.M. Elliott

I'll admit C.M. Elliott's third Sibanda mystery may not be easy to find in libraries. The publisher is a South African press. But, the setting is so unusual, Zimbabwe, that I wanted to introduce Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk.

Detective Inspector Jabulani Sibanda works out of the Gubu Police Station in Zimbabwe. He takes the call when a train hits an elephant. The railway isn't reporting the dead elephant. They're reporting that they found a body nearby, a body that had been skinned. Sibanda gathers his small team of Sergeant Ncabe and the aging Land Rover, Miss Daisy, and heads into the vicious world of a serial killer who is working the railway.

It doesn't take long for the intuitive Sibanda to announce the death is the work of a serial killer. But, Sibanda's list of suspects grows when he looks at the railway's schedule and the possible missing women. While Sibanda works his way through the list, Ncabe eats his way through the case, and the reader observes the wildlife and landscape of this exotic country.

While the story of the search for a serial killer who skins his victims may seem like a violent police procedural, Elliott's story is actually a contemporary mystery that explores the beauty and poverty of Zimbabwe. Ncabe, with his love of food, his three wives and his family, and Miss Daisy, provides the humor in the story. But, it's Sibanda, with his love of birds and wildlife, with his love of nature, who allows readers to see the beauty in the country.

The storyline may be a little too violent for those who love Alexander McCall Smith's mysteries, however, readers of Michael Stanley and Frederick Ramsay, authors who write of Botswana, may want to explore the lush setting of Zimbabwe.

C.M. Elliott's website is

Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk by C.M. Elliott. Jacana Media, 2018. 9781438402632 (paperback), 240p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

No comments: