Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
I’ve mentioned before that a book’s setting can be just as important to me as the plot or characters. This is one of those books. The culture, history, and landscape of Ghana are integral to the storyline. Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is from his station in Accra, the capital, to a small village to investigate the death of a female medical student. Darko’s not thrilled about leaving his family, a wife he loves and a son with a medical condition, but he knows the area’s native language. His aunt lives in the village and it was the last place his mother was seen before she vanished years ago. As he investigates the murder he also learns the truth behind his mother disappearance.
Darko is torn between his modern sensiblities and the age-old customs that still persist, like the trokosi, girls who are given as wives to the local priest in exchange for good fortune for their families. He steps on a lot of feet during the book, between his anger at the priest, his disagreement with the local law officer and his reluctance to rely on healers rather than doctors and hospitals. Darko has his flaws, most noticeably his anger issues, but he truly does want justice to be done. He doesn’t go along with the easy solution, although it may have been more comfortable for him if he had. He dedicates himself to finding the answers. And the mystery is good. The clues were there, I’m just not very good at seeing them.
For me though, the charm of the book lies in Ghana itself, the clash between modern and traditional cultures, the beauty of the land, the hard work involved in daily life. I’m so glad I got this book from the library, thanks to all the bloggers out there who were singing its praises. I look forward to the next in the series.