By Selma Sergent
Lauri Kubuitsile is a writer from Botswana, Africa. She was born in the USA and moved to Botswana in 1989 where she met her husband.
Lauri has published many books. She won the Golden Baobab Prize in both 2009 and 2010, and in 2011 was shortlisted for the Caine Prize. She is a prolific writer, both online and in print.
Botswana is a country with no trade publishers and a population of 1.8 million where buying books is not a priority. Yet Lauri is a full time writer in Botswana. It is due to Lauri’s talent and tenacity that she has been able to achieve this but also because she can write across many genres. The advent of e-books also looks like it may solve some of the publishing issues in Botswana. Lauri has self-published three e-books from her Kate Gomolemo Detective series. Murder For Profit, Anything For Money and Claws Of A Killer.
A crime novel, more so than any other genre, succeeds or fails on the basis of the character. Kate Gomolemo is a detective who is gutsy, brave, intelligent, impulsive and has a strong sense of family and fair play. Lauri Kubuitsile has created a main character in her detective with whom the reader can feel connected. The reader trusts Kate Gomolemo, feels worried for her, can relate to her viewpoint and is inspired by her strength as a woman.
Kate Gomolemo is a busy woman. In Murder For Profit she is drawn into the savage, callous, horrifying world of muti killing where people are killed for the power found in their body parts. Limbs from children, primarily the sexual organs, are said to be the most potent. These are sometimes taken from live victims because their screams are thought to enhance the power of the medicines. It is believed by many that taking these medicines will lead to riches and power.
In Anything For Money Kate Gomolemo deals with corruption at a high ranking government level where people will stop at nothing to satisfy their lust for money and their never ending thirst for power.
In Claws Of A Killer she encounters a serial killer. This is probably the most difficult encounter of all for Kate as she says herself that ‘Botswana is not the home to serial killers…’
In each novel Kate finds herself in dangerous situations – chilling, dark, terrifying cases to be solved.
There is an unstinting heartlessness to many of the crimes, a black, barbaric world that makes the reader gasp with fear because of the emotion we have invested in Detective Kate Gomolemo.
Why does the reader become emotionally invested in a female detective from Botswana? Haven’t we seen it all before with Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Precious Ramotswe?
It is fair to draw comparisons with McCall Smith in the sense that both novels involve crime, strong female characters who solve those crimes and are set in Botswana. But that’s really where the comparison ends – Kate Gomolemo is a legitimate police detective, she carries a weapon, she does work and live in Botswana but her approach to fighting crime is more NYPD Blue than Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.
That said, there is still a sense of cultural significance to Lauri Kubuitsile’s crime novels covering themes of HIV/AIDS in African society, government corruption, the place of women, traditional life, right down to the jacaranda and morula trees and the colours of the sky at dusk….. one cannot escape the impression that one is in Africa and not in New York. This impression is coupled with a universal appeal underlined by the most powerful of themes…. good triumphing over evil….we all want a bit more of that.
Last week Murder For Profit was number One on Amazon for books about Botswana. Anything For Money and Claws Of A Killer were in the Top 20- an impressive achievement in a genre where competition is fierce.
Tight, compelling, convincing writing will always make novels sell well, but it’s the darkness, the presence of it in all three novels, the taint of it, that keeps the reader turning the page.
“He rocks back and forth hoping to push it away, but it is coming and he needs to be ready. He has no choice but to give in. It needs to eat; the killing is its nourishment. Mechanically, he rises from the bed. He reaches to the top of the wardrobe and pulls down what he needs. He slides into the black clothes and drops the three silver claws into his pocket. It is time to find his prey.”
(Claws Of A Killer.)
You can buy the Kate Gomolemo Mystery Series on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Lauri-Kubuitsile/e/B001K8CF40
and visit Lauri at her blog
I am a former teacher and musician. I have worked as an editor and writer for several small publishers in Sydney, Australia. I have had some short stories published, as well as two plays. I also mess about with fiction on my blog. Once I was a hairsbreadth away from a publishing deal with a major publishing house. I have too many full length novels in my filing cabinet waiting to be submitted. I understand the vagaries of the writing life yet remain passionate about writers and writing. The world with all its flaws continues to inspire me.