Wife of the Gods
By Kwei Quartey
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400067596, 336pp.)
Publication Date: July 14, 2009
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Lyrical and captivating, Kwei Quartey’s debut novel brings to life the majesty and charm of Ghana–from the capital city of Accra to a small community where long-buried secrets are about to rise to the surface.
In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman–a promising med student–has been found dead under suspicious circumstances. Eager to close the case, the local police have arrested a poor, enamored teenage boy and charged him with murder. Needless to say, they are less than thrilled when an outside force arrives from the big city to lead an inquiry into the baffling case.
Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, fluent in Ketanu’s indigenous language, is the right man for the job, but he hates the idea of leaving his loving wife and young son, a plucky kid with a defective heart. Pressured by his cantankerous boss, Dawson agrees to travel to Ketanu, sort through the evidence, and tie up the loose ends as quickly and as efficiently as possible. But for Dawson, this sleepy corner of Ghana is rife with emotional land mines: an estranged relationship with the family he left behind twenty-five years earlier and the painful memory of his own mother’s sudden, inexplicable disappearance. Dawson is armed with remarkable insight and a healthy dose of skepticism, but these gifts, sometimes overshadowed by his mercurial temper, may not be enough to solve this haunting mystery. In Ketanu, he finds that his cosmopolitan sensibilities clash with age-old customs, including a disturbing practice in which teenage girls are offered by their families to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods.
This is a compelling and unique mystery, enriched by an exotic setting and a vivid cast. And Inspector Darko Dawson–dedicated family man, rebel in the office, and ace in the field–is one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years.
Kwei Quartey was raised in Ghana by an African American mother and a Ghanaian father, both of whom were university lecturers. Dr. Kwei Quartey practices medicine in Southern California, rising early in the morning to write before going to work. He is currently writing his next novel.
Dr. Kwei Quartey's novel Wife of the Gods is a detective story set in West Africa that touches on a conflict between science and superstition. Quartey was born in Ghana and now practices medicine in California. More at NPR.org
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Quartey has long harbored a passion for writing fiction, and his debut novel is a mystery set in the land of his birth. The book is laced with vivid depictions of its exotic locale, as well as twists and quirks rooted firmly in the traditions of that African nation.
“Move over Alexander McCall Smith. Ghana has joined Botswana on the map of mystery . . . [This] newcomer is most welcome.”—Kirkus
“Crisp, engrossing debut…. Fans of McCall Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novels will relish the opportunity to discover yet another intriguing area of Africa.” —Booklist, Starred Review
“A winning Debut…readers will be eager for the next installment in what one hopes will be a long series.” —Publisher’s Weekly
“Wife of the Gods is a gem. Memorable fiction is always about discovery, and this fascinating debut delivers much that is new. Kwei Quartey contrasts the modern against the ancient while portraying his native West Africa in a way that is always fresh and alluring. He introduces us to people we don’t know who live a culture we’ve never imagined, and he manages to offer the most elusive of fabulist gifts…an engrossing story we haven’t heard.”—Stephen White, author of The Siege
“A sensitive novel of powerful family passions, set in the unique and vivid colours of Ghana. It is a complex mystery and with a detective that I hope we meet again.”—Anne Perry, author of Buckingham Palace Gardens
“With great artistry, Quartey takes us on a mystical trip through the heart of Ghana where we visit remarkable characters and find ourselves tangled in unfathomable mysteries.”—Colin Cotterill, author of Curse of the Pogo Stick
"Kwei Quartey's wonderful Inspector Darko Dawson mystery, Wife of the Gods, brings to vivid life a character and a setting that no mystery fan should miss.”—Charles Todd, author of A Matter of Justice: An Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery