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Wife of the Gods: A Novel

Wife of the Gods: A Novel

Escrito por Kwei Quartey

Narrado por Simon Prebble


Wife of the Gods: A Novel

Escrito por Kwei Quartey

Narrado por Simon Prebble

valoraciones:
4/5 (52 valoraciones)
Longitud:
9 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 26, 2010
ISBN:
9781400183418
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descripción

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, a good family man and a remarkably intuitive sleuth, is sent to the village of Ketanu-the site of his mother's disappearance many years ago-to solve the murder of an accomplished young AIDS worker.



While battling his own anger issues and concerns for his ailing son, Darko explores the motivations and secrets of the residents of Ketanu. It soon becomes clear that in addition to solving a recent murder, he is about to unravel the shocking truth about his mother's disappearance.



Kwei Quartey's sparkling debut novel introduces readers to a rich cast of characters, including the Trokosi-young women called Wives of the Gods-who, in order to bring good fortune to their families, are sent to live with fetish priests. Set in Ghana, with the action moving back and forth between the capital city of Accra and a small village in the Volta Region, Wife of the Gods brings the culture and beauty of its setting brilliantly to life.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jan 26, 2010
ISBN:
9781400183418
Formato:
Audiolibro


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  • (4/5)
    This is just a quick review to get my thoughts down. I'll post a blog link once I get that review written. I enjoyed this mystery set in Ghana quite a bit. I really liked the main character of Darko Dawson. He had a lot of depth to him. Reading about the culture was really interesting. There were quite a few characters in the beginning and I had to keep them straight in my mind but after about the first 1/3rd of the book I had it all down.I thought the mystery was good as it didn't give too much away too soon. It took me right along with Darko and I liked where it ended up. The end was not all together surprising. I thought the murderer was involved somehow, I just didn't think this person was the actual killer. A very refreshing turn to the mystery genre and I would read a second installment in the series.
  • (3/5)
    Not sure how I feel about the detective and his methods. It can be hard to like a book if you don't like the character's behavior. I think I'll read another one in the series and see how it goes. Perhaps the detective's methods mature a bit.
  • (4/5)
    Det. Darko Dawson of Ghana's CID travels to a rural village to investigate the murder of a young med student/AIDs education volunteer. The book has everything I look for in a mystery:richly drawn intriguing characters, a vivid cultural and physical background, and a mystery that keeps me guessing with classic red herrings, multiple suspects, good cops and bad (very bad) cops. Grittier than Alexander McCall Smith, but more focus on character development than on gore. I look forward to more from this writer.
  • (4/5)
    Book Description:Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, a good family man and a remarkably intuitive sleuth, is sent to the village of Ketanu-the site of his mother's disappearance many years ago-to solve the murder of an accomplished young AIDS worker. While battling his own anger issues and concerns for his ailing son, Darko explores the motivations and secrets of the residents of Ketanu. It soon becomes clear that in addition to solving a recent murder, he is about to unravel the shocking truth about his mother's disappearance. Kwei Quartey's sparkling debut novel introduces readers to a rich cast of characters, including the Trokosi-young women called Wives of the Gods-who, in order to bring good fortune to their families, are sent to live with fetish priests. Set in Ghana, with the action moving back and forth between the capital city of Accra and a small village in the Volta Region, Wife of the Gods brings the culture and beauty of its setting brilliantly to life.My Review:I found Kwei Quartey to be an excellent storyteller. His vivid descriptions take you to Ghana in West Africa and you feel like you're there with the characters. The book is skillfully plotted with lots of twists and turns and hooks you from the beginning until the end. The characters are excellently developed and Darko is a flawed protagonist but really cares about his people. I learned a lot about the African culture and how it conflicts with the law. I look forward to reading the 2nd installment and would recommend this series to those who would like an escape to Ghana in West Africa.
  • (4/5)
    Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra branch of the CID is sent to Ketanu to investigate the murder of a young woman, Gladys Mensah, who was studying medicine. She was especially interested in finding a cure for AIDS. Dawson and the local chief Fiti did not always see eye to eye on suspects or how to treat them. Police brutality is a bit of an issue. Dawson was assigned the case because he spoke the local dialect. His mother's family was from the area, and he was familiar with it. His aunt lived there. In fact, Darko's mom never returned home from a trip there years earlier. Although the author used red herrings, I figured this one out pretty early on and wondered how Darko would handle it when he figured it out. I am not a huge fan of African settings, but this one worked for me. The characters were interesting, and it was interesting to discover some aspects of modern culture are present in the country. I look forward to the next installment. I listened to the audio book from Tantor Media, narrated by Simon Prebble, who did an excellent job.
  • (4/5)
    Digital audiobook performed by Simon Prebble.First in a series featuring Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of Accra, Ghana. Dawson is a dedicated family man with a loving wife and a charming, if medically fragile, young son. He’s also somewhat of a rebel in the police force and frequently at odds with his cantankerous boss. He’s not happy about his new assignment in remote area of Ghana; a young woman – a promising medical student and AIDS worker – has been found dead in a jungle area near the small town of Ketanu. The local police are not equipped to handle an investigation like this, and Dawson, who has relatives in the town, is fluent in the local indigenous language. But what he uncovers brings up many memories of his own mother, who disappeared without a trace after a visit to her sister in Ketnau. Oh, I am going to like this series! Darko is a principled man, but he has his demons, and he seeks solace in smoking marijuana. He’s also sometimes prone to resorting to his own brand of vigilante justice. But there’s no denying that he’s a talented – and tenacious – detective. The way he ferrets out small clues and pieces the puzzle together is marvelously portrayed. There are plenty of suspects and motives and a compelling subplot to keep the reader off balance and guessing. I also really appreciated the information on the cultural ideologies and customs of this small corner of Ghana. There’s a significant clash between traditional beliefs and modern-day medicine. And Dawson also needs to tread carefully in the political minefield that is the turf of the areas leaders, who, if not exactly corrupt, are certainly misguided and provincial in their thinking. Simon Prebble does a marvelous job reading the audiobook. He really brings these characters to life.
  • (4/5)
    I don't think I can add much to the over 60 reviews already on LT. As far as a first book in a police procedural/mystery series, Darko is like any number of other fictional police detectives I have read of late: compassionate, with deeper, darker undercurrents to his personality that can bubble to the surface. What makes this on different is that Quartey does a great job capturing modern Ghana with its sharp contrasts between the large cities with their more glitzy style and modern viewpoints and the smaller, more rural communities still steeped in traditional systems and beliefs. I was fascinated and horrified to learn about Trokosi, which is a ritual servitude (including sexual servitude) where virgin girls are given to village priests as a way of appeasing the gods for crimes committed by family members, a practice that under Ghana's 1992 Constitution, was legally required to eradicate all slavery and slavery-like practices within the country, which is still being practiced in some parts of Ghana. The police procedural aspect of the story was okay, with enough interesting characters and developments to keep the story moving forward but for me, it was the Ghanian setting and lifestyle depicted that I found to be fascinating reading.
  • (4/5)
    We lived in Ghana nearly 40 years ago, so when I saw this book featured in a library display, I had to check it out. Ghanaian friends and the charms of the country and the people came to mind as I read this engaging mystery which contrasts traditional village life with urban, Western-influenced life. The characters are recognizable and the mysteries resolved in a satisfying if tragic conclusion.
  • (4/5)
    This was a quick read and a good mystery. I appreciated being transported to Ghana and I was intrigued by the clash between traditional customs (i.e., faith healers, polygamy) and modern medicine (i.e., AIDS education). This wonderful blend seemed real to me although I have never been to Africa or Ghana. The mystery itself uncovers the main character's flaws in a subtle way and paves a foundation upon which future Detective Darko mysteries may be built. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about modern day Ghana blended with history and tradition. The ultimate twist was a good and unexpected one which is what makes a mystery fun to read.
  • (4/5)
    Set in Ghana, this is an excellent first mystery by Kwei Quartey. The plot successfully combines age-old customs with modern policing. Despite a mercurial temper that can get him into trouble, the investigating detective is an appealing character that the reader can cheer for. I look forward to more by this author.
  • (4/5)
    Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is sent from the Ghanaian capital, Accra, to the small town of Ketanu to investigate the murder of a young medical student, Gladys Mensah, who was volunteering for an AIDS outreach program in the area. The local inspector believes it to be an open-and-shut case and arrests a suspect. Dawson doesn’t follow the same line of thought, and would rather pursue a different direction to find the actual killer. Running parallel to the murder investigation of Gladys is the story of Dawson. Darko is haunted by the memory of his mother who disappeared during a trip to Ketanu decades earlier and was never found.

    The mystery itself is rather intricate, made so in part by the customs and beliefs of the villagers. The author incorporates these cultural references into the story in a seamless way. Dawson is a flawed man who has a penchant for marijuana. He’s a young husband and father, absolutely devoted to his family. His son was born with a heart defect and needs an expensive procedure that the family cannot afford. Dawson’s mother-in-law steeped in the old traditions would rather procure the services of a traditional healer than wait for the needed money to be raised, which Darko is against. His wife, Christine, has to mediate between the two.

    I learned so much about the Ghanian culture in this book. The author did a great job of describing Ghana and Ghanaian medicine, both witchcraft and scientific. I didn't realize that Wife of the Gods refers to trokosi. Trokosi are young girls who are handed over to fetish priests by their families as a way to make up for bad things that have happened in the past. I'm glad I read this book and would definitely read another featuring this detective.
  • (4/5)
    Detective Inspector Darko Dawson from Accra considered himself a city boy. He is a good man but has anger management problems which cause him troubles, but which he always makes excuses for.

    He is sent to a small nearby town to aid in the case of the murder of a young medical student. This is also the town from which his mother disappeared many years ago. The story is complex, the characters are all very interesting and well drawn.

    The front of the book suggests that fans of Precious of The No.1 The Ladies' Detective Agency will like this. I don't know about that. This book is darker, more complex and very engrossing.
  • (4/5)
    In the small town of Ketanu in Ghana a young medical student and volunteer AIDS outreach worker, Gladys Mensah, is murdered and Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is sent from the country’s capital to head up the investigation. The local Inspector believes that a young troublemaker is to blame for the crime, it’s just a matter of getting him to confess, but Dawson thinks they must look further afield.

    Darko Dawson is a complex, engaging character who I thoroughly enjoyed meeting. He doesn’t succumb to what might be considered the usual faults of fictional detectives, he is happily married and doesn’t drink alcohol, but he has his share of demons. His young son is in dire need of medical treatment that Darko and his wife cannot afford, he is haunted by the unsolved disappearance of his mother when he was only a boy and he is prone to bursts of violence (though only ever against people who you feel like hitting yourself). He is also a dogged investigator and someone who struggles with the consequences of his actions and decisions and I liked him very much, imperfections and all.

    The book is peppered with other well-drawn characters including several strong, credible females. The murdered woman’s Aunt Elizabeth is a delight and deals most admirably with being accused of witchcraft and other unpleasantness and, in the end, the wives of the local ‘fetish priest’ turn out to be made of tough stuff too. The darker characters are equally strong, engendering a smouldering fury in this reader. The ‘fetish priest’ who accepts gifts of young women to be his wives in return for the removal of curses upon the women’s families vies with the local police Inspector who refuses to see beyond his own prejudices when looking for the murderer for the title of most abhorrent individual in the book.

    The other strength of the book is its exploration of modern Ghana where traditional beliefs in witchcraft and healers exist alongside modern scientific and medical practices in an often uncomfortable way. Quartey, who is a medical doctor, makes it fairly clear what side of any debate he would fall on but the story does allow for the co-existence of some beliefs and practices and also does a lot to explain why the traditional beliefs are attractive and comforting to people in a way that modern science might not be.

    To top it all of there is a solid mystery to solve here, and a second one that might also be resolved as Darko uses the opportunity of his return to Ketanu to re-consider his mother’s disappearance all those years ago. For the most part the procedural elements of the story are well-handled, though I found it slightly unbelievable that several people could be arrested for the same crime without much in the way of evidence but that’s a relatively minor point. The ultimate solution wasn’t a huge surprise to me but it was revealed intelligently and its not being obvious to the people in the book was consistent with the culture that was depicted throughout.

    I admit I was a little wary picking up this book as I tend to prefer reading books by people who live in the settings they are describing especially when those settings are exotic. However it’s clear that Quartey, who did live in Ghana for many years, has a sound understanding of and respect for the culture. He has managed to depict both positive and negative elements of that culture in a sensitive, non-judgmental way and added a solid mystery and terrific characters to that depiction. I am already looking forward to the second book in this series which is due for publication next year.
  • (4/5)
    A likeable police procedural set in Ghana, one of the most educated and democratic countries in Africa. I found the detective likable and the cultural explications to be engaging, this despite the fact that I am not that I went into this book without much interest in Ghana or Africa in general.
  • (4/5)
    This is a detective, crime-thriller type of story, and main detective on the case is Darko. The story is based on the murder of a young, medical student of 22 years old found dead in the forest of Accra in Ho. The story captures some insight on Ghana, their older customs and traditions of the high priest/shine marrying many young wives once they reach the age of puberty but could be passing a deadly disease to them. He refuses to get tested and protected to avoid passing HIV. There are a number of suspects and waiting to get to who dunnit!*LFPC read was his second book in the series, "Children of the Streets" but wanted to read the first book in the series before reading this one for the month of November.
  • (3/5)
    Set in Ghana- contemporary times- this ‘who done-it’ delves into two murder cases in the same rural villiage. The modern case brings the detective from the city to investigate and as he does he discovers how his own mother came to her end 25 years earlier. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of modern and traditional beliefs about economics, police procedures, medical treatment and whichcraft. The characters are well defined and I can see that Kwei Quaerwy may end up quiting his day job (as an American Dr.) to pursue his writing full time.
  • (3/5)
    I am thinking that this is a good introduction to police work in Ghana, this mix of traditional ideas and modern methods. A good narrative despite the fact the solution was telegraphed, deliberately I think, early in the story. I hope more than Darko Dawson play a role in installment number two.
  • (5/5)
    WIFE OF THE GODS is two stories. The first story begins with the discovery of the body of Gladys Mensah in the forest outside the town of Ketanu. Gladys is a medical student and a volunteer AIDS worker. Efia finds the body early one morning. “Efia was a trokosi, which meant she belonged to the gods.” In Efia’s life that means belonging to Togbe Adzima, the chief and the High Priest of the village. Eighteen years earlier, Efia’s uncle murdered a man and, although he is in prison, the family has been cursed with unending signs of the gods displeasure. Desperate for a reversal of fortune, the elders of her family go to the high priest, asking him to intercede on their behalf so that there torment will be ended. Togbe communes with the gods and learns that all will be well if they bring him a female child to serve at the shrine. She will belong to the gods and she will give birth to the children they give her through Togbe. At the age of twelve, Efia becomes a wife of the gods. Gladys and Efia belong to two different worlds but in a small town in Ghana, their stories come together through fear and superstition.Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is assigned to the homicide division of the CID in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Darko has a wife and a son, a brother and a father, and he is a thoroughly modern man. But he also has ties to Ketanu. His mother was born in the village and his aunt and uncle are living there. Most importantly, from his superior’s point of view, is that Darko speaks Ewe, the local dialect. Darko is not happy to return to Ketanu. When he was 12 years old, his mother disappeared on her way home from a visit to her sister. Darko has been haunted by dreams of his mother and he has spent his life ever since trying to understand what happened to her. Darko’s story is the second story that is woven with the first to produce a very satisfying book that owes it resolution as much to Darko’s response to the sounds he hears as it is to modern police work.There is a large cast of characters in WIFE OF THE GODS, all in some way touched by superstition and the practices of an old culture. Darko is especially sensitive to the sounds of speech. He can hear a lie in a voice. Despite Gladys’ efforts as an AIDS educator, some believe that AIDS is caused by a curse. Faith healers prey on desperate people. Secrets are hidden until they cry out to be spoken. Greed and jealousy are as old humanity and as new as the next breath. Lust and love lead to obsession. And there are the trokosi who have no way to flee from the brutality they face as a WIFE OF THE GODS.Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana, the son of a Ghanaian man and an African-American woman. When his father died, he moved to the United States with his mother and he is now a practicing physician in California. In researching his book, he looked at all aspects of the culture, including the trokosi. Although the practice has been outlawed, it has not disappeared because many in Ghana still believe is the power of the chiefs and high priests. The media has made known practices that violate human rights but the trokosis have yet to come to light in the main stream media.
  • (4/5)
    This murder mystery doesn't have more than an average plot and the characters aren't particularly developed. I liked the dectective, with his barely controlled temper, proclivity to smoke pot, in-law that he hates and sick son whom he loves. The best part of the novel is the setting, both rural and urban Ghana, which he captures beautifully, making the book a very enjoyable read.
  • (4/5)
    Darko Dawson is a Detective Inspector living in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. Though he has the career that he has longed for as a child, a loving wife, and an adorable six-year-old son, Darko is still plagued by questions concerning his mother’s disappearance in her hometown of Ketanu, just over twenty years ago. Darko and his brother visited Ketanu once as children, yet after their mother’s tragic and mysterious disappearance neither of them has ever gone back. When Gladys Mensah, a young female medical student working to educate the local village women on contraception and AIDS, is murdered and left in a field in Ketanu, Darko must return not only to investigate the shocking crime but to finally face the past that he has been uneasily avoiding.Darko is uniquely qualified to assist in the investigation since he is the only one on the force able to speak Ewe (pronounced eh-way), the language of his mother’s village. Reluctant to leave his wife and ailing son, Darko nevertheless packs up and relocates temporarily to Ketanu to reconnect with family he has met only once and to oversee the murder investigation. Gladys Mensah, the young medical student found strangled in the fields of Ketanu, had a strong relationship with the women of the community that she served, but as it turns out she was often at odd with the polygamous priests of village as well as the local tribal doctor-a man with whom Darko has troubling past associations.Already, Wife of the Gods has been compared favorably to Alexander McCall Smith’s No. 1 Detective Agency series, and while I recently acquired a copy of the first book in that series, I have yet to read it, which made it easy for me to immerse myself in Wife of the Gods without having any distracting comparisons rattling around in my head. I have to say that this book definitely is able to stand on its own as a solid beginning to an intriguing mystery series. Darko Dawson (I keep wanting to call him Donnie Darko) is an interesting character- complex, flawed and not wholly likable- at least not so that you are completely comfortable with liking him. He definitely does some things that make you raise your eyebrows, and issues he needs to work on- anger management being chief among them. You wonder how he manages to keep his job. With a penchant for smoking marijuana that he scores from one of his police informants, and a violent and barely leashed temper, I sometimes questioned his ability to carry out his duties effectively, but at the same time I was drawn in by how much he took an interest in the lives of the people he encountered and his deep need to help the young man who has been, Darko believes, wrongfully accused of Gladys Mensah’s murder.Supporting the detective story is the wonderful background of the city of Accra and Ketanu where we are able to vividly see the way the the old world customs conflict and struggle to survive the new. The traditional medicines and remedies are much different than the modern ones, and even the cause of basic diseases are not the same. Quartey is able to weave a lot of the details of the culture in with the narrative and I was very taken with reading about the different foods, vocabulary and opposing modern and traditional medical approaches. A fine balance is drawn between moving the story along and briefly introducing characters who will likely play key roles as the series develops- of course his family, but also with his mentor and his mostly estranged brother. I think one of the most fascinating things of all will see how Darko will handle the demons that are plaguing him and what choices he will make not only in his career but within his marriage.Both mysteries, of Darko’s mother and Gladys Mensah, unfolded at a suspenseful pace and I alternately wanted to go back to whichever section I had last been reading to learn more about what was going on. I enjoyed trying to solve each of the mysteries and I definitely think that if you pay attention you will formulate an uneasy guess at “whodunnit” before it becomes obvious. It’ll be uneasy because, well…you just never know. I am not much of a series reader- they are just way too complicated for me in trying to determine the order, and waiting around for the new book to come out, etc. I am so glad that I was able to read the first of this series because I would love to check up on Darko and see how he gets along.
  • (3/5)
    A story reminiscent of the First Ladies detective agency servies. Nice story line, good character development. Will read more in the series.
  • (4/5)
    Darko Dawson is a haunted man. When Dawason was a young boy, his mother had gone to visit her sister in rural Ghana and disappeared somewhere on the journey home. No trace of her has ever been found. Now a grown man, Dawson dreams of his mother in a dark forest and worries about his son who needs an operation to repair a hole in heart. But Dawson's job as detective with the Criminal Investigations Department means he will have to save for a long time to afford the surgery. So, when Dawson is assigned to investigate a death in his mother's village of Ketanu, he carries the burdens of the past and the present with him to the crime scene where Gladys Mensah, medical student and volunteer AIDS worker, has been found dead in a plantain grove by Efia, a “wife of the gods” in servitude to the local fetish priest, Togbe Adzima.In Wife of the Gods Qwerty gives us the first in a new detective series starring Darko Dawson, a unique and somewhat flawed government servant, who presents Ghana as a country in constant flux between modern convenience and ancient customs. We meet Dawson's family: his wife, son, and mother-in-law, who still believes in healers; and his aunt, uncle and cousin who live in rural Ghana under an older social order that still accepts the custom of families giving young virgin daughters to serve the gods by serving as wives to the fetish priest and bearing his children—wives and children Gladys was trying to free from what she saw as slavery. We meet the local constabulary: Inspector Fiti, the Police Chief in Ketanu, who already has a suspect in his sights and deeply resents Dawson's arrival; and Constable Gyamfi, Fiti's deputy, who only wants to see justice done. And haunting the background always is the ghost of Dawson's mother who, it seemed, had disappeared into thin air.Qwerty not only provides three-dimensional characters in a unique setting, he provides a solid police procedural that leaves you anticipating Darko Dawson's next assignment in Ghana.This review is based upon the Kindle edition.
  • (4/5)
    Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey is both unique and engrossing. With the exotic setting of Ghana in West Africa, a young, beautiful women murdered, strong family passions, and a main character who is both clever and compassionate yet has issues of his own.Inspector Darko Dawson is sent to a rural town to investigate the murder of a young medical student who perhaps ran afoul of the local fetish priest. He speaks the language of the district as he has family there, it is also the town from which his mother disappeared 20 years ago. Working at cross purposes the local police seem to be railroading a young man into confessing to the murder. Contrasting the old ways of Africa with the emergence of the new and modern, this novel tells us a lot about Africa and it’s culture today, while still delivering a very good mystery story.
  • (4/5)
    When I first saw mention of Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods, I knew I had to read it. I can’t resist a crime fiction novel, especially one set in a country other than my own. I get to learn about another country and culture while at the same time settling in with the comfort of the familiar format of a mystery.Kwei Quartey’s protagonist, Darko Dawson is the kind of detective I would want investigating my murder. He has a dogged determination and a strong sense of right and wrong—at least where others are concerned. Righteous is the word that comes to mind, but not in an arrogant or overbearing way. Darko is anything but perfect though. He has a weakness for marijuana and a bit of a temper which lands him in plenty of trouble.The novel is set in the beautiful country of Ghana. Quartey paints a portrait of a complex society, one that straddles the old traditions and the new. In a community where witchcraft is feared and superstitions are commonplace, science is still trying to find a foothold. Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is a modern man. He trusts in science and facts to solve his cases. When he is assigned to Ketanu, a small out of the way community, to aid in the murder investigation of a volunteer AIDS worker, he comes face to face with the very superstitions he disdains.The Chief Inspector of Ketanu has his eyes set on a particular young man as his suspect, but Darko isn’t convinced. He sets out on his own investigation, determined to solve the murder.Darko’s mother disappeared after a visit to Ketanu over twenty years before while visiting her sister who lived in the town. Perhaps he can look into her disappearance while there as well. It’s a long shot after so many years, but he at least wants to give it a try.I have seen this book compared to Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and I have to disagree. Smith’s series is not much of a crime fiction series at all—and if you go into those books expecting a mystery, you may well be disappointed. With Quartey’s book, on the other hand, a mystery is exactly what you get. It’s also a bit darker in some respects, than Smith’s series. There was so much I liked about this series, including the various interesting characters, the flashbacks into Darko’s past and the unfolding of the mystery of his mother’s disappearance as well as the murder of that young volunteer. There was a moment early on in the book when I thought one story thread might get lost in other, but fortunately that did not happen.Another aspect that especially caught my attention was the health department and volunteers like the murdered woman who struggle to reach a population of people who are very entrenched in the old ways. The misinformation and superstitions surrounding AIDS is frightening. Add to that the issue of fetish priests and the practice of families marrying off their teenage daughters to them in hopes of turning around bad luck or getting rid of a curse. Quartey offers both sides of these issues to some extent, but it is clear which side Darko falls on. Wife of the Gods is a promising start for a new series. There are many characters, including Armah, Darko’s inspiration and mentor, that I hope I can visit again. And I do hope I haven’t seen the last of Elizabeth Mensah. She’s an admirable and strong woman. Kwei Quartey is definitely an author to watch.
  • (4/5)
    Here’s a police murder mystery dressed in fresh African colors. We meet flawed but sympathetic Inspector Darko Dawson of the Ghanaian police in his first fictional outing. Darko is a loving husband and father who can let his temper get the upper hand. He’s investigating the murder of a young medical student and local AIDs worker in the small Ghanaian village where his own mother disappeared years ago. The local cop thinks he has the case sewn up when he arrests a ne’er-do-well boy, although Darko is not so sure. Perhaps it was really the traditional healer or the victim’s boss at the health ministry? And does Darko’s long vanished mother fit into this mystery? The plot delivers a solid mystery while exploring contemporary Ghanaian issues. The evolving status of women is a key theme. Darko is incensed when a man hits (one of) his wives but the local police officer won’t intervene because “a man can beat his wife if he wants”. At the same time, some women are taking new roles and demanding (and sometimes getting) more equal treatment. The murder victim’s unmarried aunt runs a business, uncowed by local ruffians who try crying witch to distract attention from their own misdeeds. There’s also an interesting subplot centering on the tension between traditional healing practices and western medicine. Quartey’s Ghana is not all pretty vistas and quaint folk customs. The old ways—both the colorful and the repressive—live cheek-to-jowl with new. Quartey’s strong characters enmeshed in complex relationships remain vividly in mind. He gives us are real people with human motivations and emotions. All in all a satisfying read. I’ll look for future Darko mysteries.
  • (4/5)
    The StoryA mysterious murder of a model citizen takes place in Ghana. A small community’s beloved young medical student, Gladys, dies under questionable circumstances. Upon the results of her autopsy, it is evident that her death is attributable to homicide. Although local authorities are on the case, an additional investigator is brought in from Accra (the nearby large municipality). This investigator is Detective Inspector Darko Dawson. Coincidentally, he had spent considerable time in this small community as a child as he has family who resides there. In addition to this family, his mother mysteriously died en route to home on her way back from visiting her sister in this town of Ketanu.Darko is married with a boy who was born with a congenital heart defect, a hole in his heart in need of repair. To me, this mirrors the hole left in Darko’s heart upon the unexplained death of his mother. As Darko and his wife, Christine, work to heal their son, he is called out to Ketanu to work on this case. There is much about Ketanu that Darko welcomes, yet affects him in such a sad way as it brings back so many memories for him. Able to understand their native tongue and customs, he sets out to solve the mystery of Gladys’ unexplained death. The ReviewI’ve never paid a doctor for healing me with a payment of two live chickens, although the thought now tempts me! I have yet to read The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency, but I can only imagine that it must be similar in many ways to this book. African culture has always intrigued me and I got a great dose of it in reading this who-done-it. Expertly, Quartey includes a glossary of terms in the back of the book so that readers can follow along with some of the local dialect contained within the novel.To begin, what I most liked about this story was its characters. I think that Quartey did a great job bringing the protagonist to the forefront of the reader’s mind, almost reminiscent of a James Patterson mystery in which you come to be the fly on the shoulder of the detective. In fact, many aspects of this novel reminded me of James Patterson. There were the good vs. evil forces that were present. In addition, the taboos and witchcraft of the ancient culture were included in this modern-day story. Therefore, what you get out of this novel is some history, culture, spookiness, and a good old fashioned detective mystery. All the makings of a good book. Speaking of culture… the way that the food is described in this book made my mouth water. I love plantains and there are plenty of them in here!What wasn’t my “cup of tea?” Well… in general I’m not a real mystery enthusiast. I will read perhaps 2-3 mysteries per year. But, that isn’t to say that this isn’t a good book. It is a rather great read. Unlike many mystery fanatics I know, I’m just not hooked on them. But, anybody who loves the art of a well written murder mystery and is looking for something refreshing and different will find just that in Wife Of The Gods.The RatingOn Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale,” I am giving Wife Of The Gods a rating of 7.5 out of 10. I liked the setting of a murder mystery in a land and culture that are completely foreign to me. I enjoyed the richness of the setting nearly as much as I did the story itself. I also appreciated the message in the book about preventing the spread of AIDS, how simple it really can be.
  • (3/5)
    It’s always fun to read a book set in a new or unusual location. Taking place in Ghana, debut novelist Kwei Quartey’s mystery “Wife of the Gods” is new in that regard, but it’s also the first of a planned series introducing the interesting character of Detective Inspector Darko Dawson.We meet Darko Dawson as he is being sent to a remote village to help solve the murder of a young woman who was an AIDs activist. Dawson has been tapped for the assignment because he speaks the local language and still has an aunt and uncle who live there. The assignment brings with it very mixed feelings for Dawson. When he was a child he mother inexplicably disappeared from this village and the case was never solved.We are introduced to several quirky and kind local characters as Dawson attempts to solve the crime, but things don’t go smoothly for Dawson as he fights several demons of his own. His son is gravely ill, he has a temper he finds hard to control, and he knows his beloved wife hates it when he smokes marijuana but at times he simply cannot resist its calming lure. Despite, or perhaps because of these shortcomings, Dawson becomes a sympathetic character.Quartey does a nice job of creating a solid history for his major characters and infuses the story with lots of local color, describing food, clothing, sights and sounds. The dialogue seems a bit quaint, but perhaps that is reflective of the location, and while the mystery is not overly complex, the careful way that Dawson finally puts the pieces together makes for a satisfying ending.
  • (4/5)
    "Wife of the Gods" is a very good debut novel. It suffers from occasional infelicities of language, but those should disappear as the author gains experience.The publisher compares Quartey to Alexander McCall Smith — presumably meaning the Precious Ramotswe novels — but the only thing this book has in common with Smith's series is that it takes place on the same continent. Quartey's book is a dark murder mystery featuring a very flawed investigator, Inspector Darko Dawson. It is as further away from the cozy atmosphere of Precious Ramotswe as Ghana is from Botswana.Darko is intriguing and charismatic, if not always likable. Apart from the murder, he seems to be engaged in a lonely fight against endemic superstition, from folk healers to the horrible tradition of the trokosi, or wife of the gods. (Yes, I'm being judgmental about another culture. Some things are just wrong, wherever they take place.)I enjoyed "Wife of the Gods," especially once I got into the West African rhythms, and am looking forward to future Darko Dawson investigations.
  • (4/5)
    Kwei Quartey's first novel features a persistent police detective in Ghana, in a book that has all the earmarks of being the beginning of a series. Darko Dawson, the main character, is a good man, with a family that he adores and strong ties to the memories of his mother, but he also has his flaws, such as a temper that leads him into rash and often unwise decisions and his addiction to marijuana. When he's sent to the small Ewe village of Ketanu, he wonders if this is a form of punishment by his boss for Darko's unorthodox treatment of a criminal, but he is also glad for the opportunity to revisit the village where his mother disappeared years ago. His official business is to determine the killer of Gladys Mensah, a beautiful woman full of promise, who was a medical student and worked in the villages for the Ministry of Health. On the side, though, Darko also plans to investigate his mother's fate, as his nightmares have revealed to him that it is finally time.With these two weighty mysteries, the novel delivers all the expected conventions of the genre: clues, multiple suspects, incompetent investigators posing obstacles to the main character, red herrings, and a cast of colorful characters with hidden layers and secrets. What raises this story above an average mystery read is the wonderful cast, in particular our troubled Darko Dawson, and the unique setting.I was intrigued by my reactions to Darko. What started with sympathy (as he has nightmares of his missing mother) mellowed out into general acceptance when we see that he is just an ordinary man, negotiating work and family and horrible traffic. I was a little irked with his marijuana usage, not the fact that he had an addiction but the way that he is so self-righteous with his supplier buddy despite his breaking the law. I brushed it off; maybe he was just messing around with the guy. Yet later on, Dawson made a few choices while being driven by his temper that I couldn't accept, even if I could sympathize with his motivation. He just went too far - I was actually angry at him. He gained my sympathies again as the novel progressed, though, by his strong moral core and his enlightened treatment of others, as well as his perseverance to find the truth and not just a scapegoat. In the end, I liked Darko all the more for his being an imperfect human. Characters that are complex and real, who can push me to a strong emotional reaction, drive the story, and in this book, we have our hero and an abundance of other such people filling the pages.Of course, setting the novel in Ghana is another device that sets this story apart from other mysteries. Unique locations are always a bonus, but also run the risque of becoming a gimmick to draw readers; fortunately, in this case it is not. The author is actually from Ghana, and the characters inhabit a world that is real and actualized. I enjoyed immersing myself in a culture that was new to me, a blend of ancient traditions and tribal customs and, yet, inescapable modernization. These factors made this mystery enjoyable and different from others that I've read; different in a positive way. I hope that Quartey fulfills the potential of turning this book into a series.
  • (4/5)
    Inspector Darko Dawson is part of Criminal Investigations in the Ghanian capital of Accra. He is called to the small town of Ketanu to help solve the murder of a young NGO volunteer and med student named Gladys. Gladys has previously clashed with a local fetish priest and a local healer, yet a young ruffian is targeted by Ketanu law enforcement as the "doer."Inspector Dawson has a history with the town of Ketanu. His mother was last seen here before she mysteriously disappeared twenty-five years ago. So it is with some apprehension that he returns to work this case and reacquaint himself with his mother's sister and her family.One of the best aspects of Wife of the Gods is the character of Darko Dawson. He is a family man with strong loyalties to his wife and young son. He also has quite a temper and a keen sense of justice, the combination of which sometimes gets him into trouble. Among his other foibles is a lusty admiration for the female form and the occasional consort with a known thief in order to obtain the weed he smokes to unwind. Regardless, Inspector Dawson is ultimately likeable in spite of, or perhaps because of, his flaws. I look forward to the author's development of this character in future novels.Regional novels are a favorite of mine. They allow me an enjoyable opportunity to learn about places with which I am unfamiliar and to revisit places that I love. Wife of the Gods was a chance to learn something about the place, people and customs of Ghana. For instance, some "teenage girls are offered by their families to fetish priests as trokosi, or Wives of the Gods" (from the back cover). This practice is a form of slavery and is controversial amongst the Ghanians.You may have heard this book compared to the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. I don't really find Smith's and Quartey's books to be similar except that they are: a) both regional detective novels, b) both character driven, and c) both set in Africa. Smith's books are set in Botswana and Quartey's book is set in Ghana. Quartey has his own voice which I found much grittier than the charm that infuses Smith's books. They are both fantastic storytellers, but they are different.If you like character-driven-regional-detective novels, I encourage you to read Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey. It is a strong beginning to a new series.