This book was both familiar and completely fresh to me. I love a good mystery and author Kwei Quartey really delivered that! When a promising young medial student is murdered in the small town of Ketanu, Ghana, there is only one man who can solve her murder – Detective Inspector Darko Dawson. Dawson is a talented detective, but in order to solve the case he must face down local police interference, a dangerous religious practice, and his own painful past.
Much of this book reads like a very familiar mystery story. Darko Dawson feels like a character I already know and love. He could be Sherlock Homes, or Hercule Poirot or Veronica Mars or Jessica Fletcher! As with so many of these characters, I was hanging on Darko’s every move, excited to see what the next layer of the mystery would be and how he would solve it!
Contrasting to its familiar character feel, this book is set in Ghana, West Africa, which was very refreshing and new to me. I think we often hear a very singular story being told about the entire continent of Africa. But, Quartey is really clever in how he represents Ghana as a place with so many different stories to be told. He shows us the bustling city life of Accra, Ghana’s capital, juxtaposed against the traditions of a rural small town. He takes us into the lives of talented, complicated, dangerous, and loving people. I really appreciated getting to know this country a little better though Kwei Quartey’s writing. (I do want to mention that while Quartey did live in Ghana, he is currently a doctor in America. If you’d like to read more on how authentically Ghana was represented in this story, Ghanaian Columnist Kofi Amenyo has a great article about the book you can read here.)
For the most part, this was a quick and refreshing read. The book does examine a few tough subjects and includes scenes with violence. At times, it was difficult to read but I felt by the end that it was important to telling the story well. If you have a hard time with violence, particularly against women, this book might not be your cup of tea. But, I have to say that overall, I loved it and would recommend it to fans of traditional mysteries as well as those looking for something new.