Saturday, June 27, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey

Title: Wife of the Gods
Author: Kwei Quartey
Publisher: Random House
Year: July 14, 2009
Reason for reading: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

First line: "The forest was black and Darko was afraid to enter."

Inspector Darko Dawson is part of Criminal Investigations in the Ghanaian 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 Ghanaians.

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.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The author, Kwei Quartey, was raised in Ghana by an African American mother and a Ghanian father. Visit his website for more information about the author, his book, and the country of Ghana.


  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this one next month. Like you, I enjoy regional fiction very much. Fingers crossed, I will be meeting the author in August at a book signing.

  2. Literary Feline: Ooooo ... lucky you with a chance to meet this author. Hope it works out and I look forward to hearing about it!

  3. It won't be long before I read this book, too. I appreciate your review!