“Deadly Harvest” by Michael Stanley / Reviewed by Clay Stafford

Deadly Harvest by Michael Stanley

I was absolutely intrigued by the idea behind “Deadly Harvest” by the writing duo pseudonym Michael Stanley. I had just come back from San Diego where I learned that rhino horns are no different than human fingernails or hair and that those who kill rhinos thinking their horns produce some sort of medicinal value would do just as well to eat their own hair clippings after a trip to the beauty shop. Still scratching my head at the stupidity of people, I find a book based upon the – I assume – true premise that human remains and body parts are being used for witchcraft in the sub-Saharan portion of Africa. I remember seeing such a “magic” shop on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. No doubt the basis is true.

I was immediately pulled into the story, not just because of the imminent danger of the ten-year-old girl, but by the truth of the writing. I immediately found myself in that world and the relationships so foreign maybe to us here in America, but supported by the stories of missionary friends from Africa I have personally known.

I was engrossed in the characters, sympathetic to those in pain, and attracted totally to the characters of both Samantha Khama and David Bengu (also known as Detective Kubu). Kubu is a man of integrity and Khama is a warrior. Both incredible traits and working together they are a pleasure to read.

The story was incredible and I couldn’t stop reading. The detective work was plausible and first-rate. There was no sensationalism about it as is often found in our more commercial thriller crime fiction; the story itself elevated it beyond any commercial fiction formula and I credit the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (the authors’ real names) for not feeling they need to take the cheap shot, but for letting the story simply tell itself.

Even with my genuine lack of belief in curses, the witch doctors gave me the creeps.  I like it that those who have been harmed become involved in solving the case. So many times in mystery stories, it is all left to authorities. Rage, hate, and revenge are wonderful motivators and I’m glad to see them employed here. I do like the way that the various characters and different points-of-view are worked into the narrative.

This is an incredible book that will leave you thinking about it for days.

Clay Stafford
– Clay Stafford is an author / filmmaker (www.ClayStafford.com) and founder of Killer Nashville (www.killernashville.com). He reviews books daily for Killer Nashville’s Book of the Day. Publishers Weekly has named Stafford and Killer Nashville as one of the top 10 Nashville literary leaders playing “an essential role in defining which books become bestsellers” not only in middle-Tennessee, but also extending “beyond the city limits and into the nation’s book culture.”  (PW 6/10/13)  Having over 1.5 million copies of his own books in print, Stafford’s latest projects are the feature documentary “One of the Miracles” (www.oneofthemiracles.com) and the music CD “XO” (www.jefferdeaverxomusic.com).

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