Quartey convincingly portrays the seedy underbelly of Accra, Ghana's capital city, in his second novel starring Det. Insp. Darko Dawson (after Wife of the Gods). The well-rounded Dawson, a homicide investigator, struggles with his taste for marijuana as well as the politics of his job. To compound his problems, his beloved seven-year-old son, Hosiah, is in desperate need of surgery, to repair a hole in his heart, that Dawson can't afford. Notwithstanding all these pressures, Dawson plunges into the search for a serial killer targeting young street children, who are stabbed and mutilated in accordance with some savage ritual. He consults the country's leading expert on ritual murder, a man with secrets of his own to conceal. Quartey cleverly hides the culprit, but the whodunit's strength is as much in the depiction of a world largely unfamiliar to an American readership as in its playing fair. (July)
“Quartey cleverly hides the culprit, but the whodunit's strength is as much in the depiction of a world largely unfamiliar to an American readership as in its playing fair.”Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“Kwei Quartey does what all the best storytellers do. He takes you to a world you have never seen and makes it as real to you as your own backyard. In Children of the Street he brings a story that is searing and original and done just right. Inspector Darko Dawson is relentless and I look forward to riding with him again.”—Michael Connelly
Praise for Kwei Quartey’s Wife of the Gods
“Fans of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency may have a new hero: Detective Inspector Darko Dawson.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Mystery fans have an important new voice to savor.”—Los Angeles Times
“Engrossing . . . a compelling cast of characters.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Full of suspense, humor and plot twists.”—Ebony
DI Dawson (Wife of the Gods) has been assigned a homicide case in which the victim is determined to be a teen boy who had been working and living on the busy streets of Accra, Ghana. The body has been mutilated in a very specific way and left to decompose in a particularly unclean location. When a second street child is found dead in a similar manner, and then a third, Dawson pulls in as many experts and as many favors as possible to put him one step ahead of the killer. There's a message being sent; can Dawson decipher it in time? With so many elements of African life to explain to the Western reader, this story could have easily become a confused mess of plot vs. background detail. Instead, the author manages to share details of the harsh conditions of street life in a city that is a difficult mix of traditional ways and modern conveniences. VERDICT Darko Dawson, with his secret struggle to stop smoking marijuana and his son's chronic illness, is one of the most engaging characters this reader has ever encountered. The police work, the unexpected reveal of the murderer and the motivation for the killings, and the clever interactions among characters of widely different professions and social classes will completely satisfy readers who enjoyed the first book and intrigue newcomers. [Academic and library marketing; Thrillerfest promotion.]—Stacey Hayman, Rocky River P.L., OH
Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, of the Ghana Police Service, hunts for a killer who preys on the most vulnerable of all his countrymen: teenagers who live on the streets of Accra.
The first victim, truck pusher Musa Zakari, is stabbed in the back, most of his fingers amputated, and left like a sack of garbage in the Korle Lagoon. The second, shoeshine boy Ebenezer Sarpong, is dumped in Jamestown with his head twisted backward. Porter/prostitute Comfort Mahama is raped and stabbed to death, her knees mutilated. Darko's investigation gets off to a slow start because he's worried that his lazy subordinate, Det. Sgt. Philip Chikata, bestirring himself to unusual initiative by his uncle, Chief Supt. Theophilus Lartey, will uncover Darko's connection to marijuana dealer Daramani Gushegu, and his own continued appetite for the shameful weed. Even after that danger passes, Darko, following the killer's trail from the Brooklyn Gang of street kids to the Street Children of Accra Refuge to the palatial home of Dr. Allen Botswe, the eminent criminal psychologist at the University of Ghana, is hampered by his incorrigible habit of going after the wrong suspect. At home, there are continuing fears that Darko and his wife Christine will never be able to afford the surgery that could close the hole in their 7-year-old son Hosiah's heart, even if his grandmother can be persuaded to quit feeding him the salty food that makes his condition worse.
Not the most compelling serial killer you've ever met, or the best-wrought procedural. As in Wife of the Gods (2009), the real star is Accra, which the killer aptly describes as "the perfect place for a murder."