This is the first book in the Inspector Darko Dawson crime series. It is set in Ketanu, a small rural town in Ghana. The book brings to light an old Ghanaian tradition called “trokosi” where young girls are offered to the fetish priest as wives in order to atone for the sin committed by a member of their families.
A young female medical student who volunteers at the AIDS center and fearlessly condemns trokosi and even goes out of her way to help the young girls is murdered and abandoned in the forest. One of the fetish priest’s young brides discovered the body. The author, known for his tricks and twists gives us four likely suspects: a young man who admired the victim and also known as the village troublemaker, the village fetish priest who didn’t like the victim because she dared to challenge trokosi, the herbal doctor who thought the victim was stealing his ideas, and the victim’s boss at the AIDS center.
So, who exactly committed the murder? There’s no one else more qualified to investigate other than Detective Inspector Darko Dawson. He’s been to Ketanu before, he fluently speaks the indigenous language, and has some relatives living there. To an outsider, Darko should be thrilled to finally reconnect with his long lost family, but going to Ketanu opens up unhealed wounds for Darko whose mother disappeared there 25 years ago. The local police are not happy with Darko’s involvement. They believe the victim’s admirer is the killer and want the investigation to end. But Darko being Darko with the special instincts didn’t think so and ended up crossing lines that caused him to be removed from the case. Despite being removed, he secretly investigated and found out that the murder is connected to his mother’s disappearance.
Kwei Quartey takes his time to explain traditions and practices mentioned in his books, which I really admire because it makes it easy to understand why such a tradition or practice is important in a murder investigation. I enjoyed this book and thought it was well written with good character introduction and development. I look forward to reading other books in the series.