In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young womana promising med studenthas 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 Ketanus 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 mothers 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 Dawsondedicated family man, rebel in the office, and ace in the fieldis one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years.
Fans of the hard-boiled mystery genre will undoubtedly want to add this one to their lists. In addition, book groups that can overlook the novel's flaws will find ample topics for conversation beyond its basic plot. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Los Angeles Times - Tim Rutten Wife of the Gods is not simply an extraordinarily well-crafted mystery; it's also an extremely well-structured and deftly written novel.
Despite a not hugely exciting denouement, readers will be eager for the next installment in what one hopes will be a long series.
Quartey's approach to detective work is less charming and more sociological than McCall Smith's, his setting more rural and susceptible to the ways of magicians. There's plenty of room for them both, and the newcomer is most welcome.
Starred Review. 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.
This well-crafted first novel is a smart purchase for all libraries and a great choice for a book club discussion.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Beverly Murder Unravels Secrets Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey is an impressive debut, a murder mystery set in modern Ghana. The reader quickly learns the mystery is who killed Gladys, a promising medical student, as she was on her way home to Ketanu, a small village in the... Read More
The Child-Wives of the Gods Wife of the Gods refers to a practice in Ghana known as trokosi. A trokosi is a
young girl who is given to the village priest, also known as a fetish priest, to
atone for a perceived sin committed by a family member; the custom is basically
a form of sanctioned slavery. It is practiced primarily in the Volta region of
southeast Ghana by members of the Ewe tribe, but also in parts of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, where
it is known as voodoosi or vudusi. It is believed the practice
began in Togo and Benin as a war ritual in the 1600s. Before combat, warriors
would offer women to the war gods in exchange for victory and a safe
The trokosi tradition is part of the traditional fetish belief system, in which
gods or spirits reside in ritual objects and in the shrine priests. The priests
are considered very powerful, able to communicate directly with the gods and
spirits, and even capable of determining life and death. ...
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