Saturday, May 2, 2009
Inspector Darko Dawson has been sent to Ketanu, a village several kilometers away from his home base of Accra, the capital of Ghana, to investigate a murder. He has mixed emotions about going, since Ketanu is the site of his mother's disappearance more than 25 years ago. In fact, he still has relatives living there. While in Ketanu, not only must the urbane Dawson contend with a population fixated on witchcraft, but the murder investigation involves him with many local superstitions, faith healers, and priests with several wives. While the publisher compares this book to Alexander McCall Smith's 1st Ladies Detective Agency series, the only similarity is the setting. This is a good police procedural, with well developed and believable characters, an engaging setting, and a cleverly twisting plot that kept me guessing until the end. Dawson is a wonderful character-- a dope smoking, firey tempered, independent, 'take no prisoners' detective. He reminds me very much of J.A. Jance's J.P. Beaumont character. While he fights his own demons, sneers at inept superiors and peers, and constantly annoys everyone, he befriends the helpless, listens to his inner senses, and cleverly solves the crime. Dr. Quartey writes eloquently, in spare but beautiful prose. The book proceeds quickly from the opening to the end, --in fact, the cliche 'page-turner' is very applicable. I especially enjoyed having a glossary of Ghanian terms available. It made the dialogue (which is masterful) readily accessible to a reader unfamiliar with the area. I was thrilled to see that he is already working on book #2. Both the character of Dawson and the author have the makings of a great series. I was lucky enough to get this as an Early Reviewer for LibraryThing. Watch for it in July!