He looked baffled. He beckoned Efia over, and the children of the shrine fell in behind her, eyes wide with curiosity.
"What are you saying, Efia?"
She repeated what she had told Nunana. Togbe Adzima frowned. "Are you sure?"
Efia nodded. She tried to wipe her tears away, but they kept pouring.
Adzima went into his hut and came back out buttoning his shirt. "I'm going to see for myself. Finish your work. Make sure my akasa is ready when I return."
The Boatengs' home was a ramshackle house on its last legs. When Inspector Fiti entered, Mr. Boateng looked wary and his wife was visibly nervous. She offered Fiti some water, which he dismissed as if she had suggested poison. Four of the seven children were at home, all of them in tattered clothing.
"Where is Samuel?" Fiti asked in Ewe.
"Please, Inspector, he went with some friends to somewhere," Boateng said.
"Find him," Fiti said. "I want to talk to him. Right now."
Boateng's eight-year-old son went to look for Samuel and came back with him a few minutes later. Samuel was nineteen, compact and wiry, the striations of his ropy muscles showing through his faded shirt. Chale-wate sandals clung to his muddy feet by threads. He looked suspiciously from the inspector to his parents.
"Sit on the floor," Fiti told him.
Samuel's face was fluid and mobile. His forehead creased and relaxed in rapid waves like a physical manifestation of his mind at work. He sat down looking both wary and defiant. The inspector moved closer and stood over him.
"Have you seen Gladys Mensah today?" Samuel's brow furrowed. "Please, no, sir."
"What about yesterday? Did you see her?"
"Yesterday? No, sir."
"Don't lie, boy. Some farmers saw you with her."
"No, sir. It wasn't me."
Everyone turned in the direction of the voice. Isaac Kutu was standing at the door.
"Yes?" Fiti saw the grave look on Isaac's face. "What's the matter?"
"You should come, Inspector. Gladys Mensah is dead."
BAD NEWS SPREADS THROUGH any small town like fire through dry savanna bush. Kweku and Osewa Gedze first heard about Gladys Mensah's death as they were working on their cocoa farm. The golden ripe cocoa pods were particularly beautiful this year. Each was perfectly almond shaped with sculptured ridges that ended in a point like an erect nipple. One pod held thirty to forty fleshy seeds that were scooped out, fermented, and then dried for days before they were ready to be shoveled into sacks for shipping. It was back-splitting work, and for all of it Osewa and Kweku would probably never savor a single mini-square of the final product-chocolate. It all went to fancy stores in the big cities at prices that they could never dream of paying.
Kweku wiped the sweat off his face and watched his wife for a moment. She was on her knees deftly slashing the pods open with a cutlass. Fifty-one years old and nine years his junior, she was strong and skilled with powerful hands that wielded a cutlass or shovel better than most men.
Excerpted from Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey Copyright © 2009 by Kwei Quartey. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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