Gold of Our Fathers
The chief inspector in the Ghana police force investigates a gold miner’s death in this “atmospheric” mystery set in West Africa (Entertainment Weekly).
 
“Fans of The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency may have a new hero: Detective Inspector Darko Dawson.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
Darko Dawson has just been promoted to chief inspector in the Ghana police service—and it even comes with a (rather modest) salary bump. But he doesn’t have much time to celebrate, because his new boss is transferring him from Accra, Ghana’s capital, out to remote Obuasi in the Ashanti region, an area notorious for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines.
 
When Dawson arrives at the Obuasi headquarters, he finds it in complete disarray. The office is a mess of uncatalogued evidence and cold case files, morale is low, and discipline among officers is lax. Then, on only his second day on the job, the body of a Chinese mine owner is unearthed in his own gold quarry. As Dawson investigates the case, he quickly learns how dangerous it is to pursue justice in this kingdom of illegal gold mines, where the worst offenders have so much money they have no fear of the law.
 
Chosen for Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List,” Gold of Our Fathers is “exceptional . . . A window into another culture” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
"1121998610"
Gold of Our Fathers
The chief inspector in the Ghana police force investigates a gold miner’s death in this “atmospheric” mystery set in West Africa (Entertainment Weekly).
 
“Fans of The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency may have a new hero: Detective Inspector Darko Dawson.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
Darko Dawson has just been promoted to chief inspector in the Ghana police service—and it even comes with a (rather modest) salary bump. But he doesn’t have much time to celebrate, because his new boss is transferring him from Accra, Ghana’s capital, out to remote Obuasi in the Ashanti region, an area notorious for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines.
 
When Dawson arrives at the Obuasi headquarters, he finds it in complete disarray. The office is a mess of uncatalogued evidence and cold case files, morale is low, and discipline among officers is lax. Then, on only his second day on the job, the body of a Chinese mine owner is unearthed in his own gold quarry. As Dawson investigates the case, he quickly learns how dangerous it is to pursue justice in this kingdom of illegal gold mines, where the worst offenders have so much money they have no fear of the law.
 
Chosen for Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List,” Gold of Our Fathers is “exceptional . . . A window into another culture” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 
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Gold of Our Fathers

Gold of Our Fathers

by Kwei Quartey
Gold of Our Fathers

Gold of Our Fathers

by Kwei Quartey

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Overview

The chief inspector in the Ghana police force investigates a gold miner’s death in this “atmospheric” mystery set in West Africa (Entertainment Weekly).
 
“Fans of The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency may have a new hero: Detective Inspector Darko Dawson.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
Darko Dawson has just been promoted to chief inspector in the Ghana police service—and it even comes with a (rather modest) salary bump. But he doesn’t have much time to celebrate, because his new boss is transferring him from Accra, Ghana’s capital, out to remote Obuasi in the Ashanti region, an area notorious for the illegal exploitation of its gold mines.
 
When Dawson arrives at the Obuasi headquarters, he finds it in complete disarray. The office is a mess of uncatalogued evidence and cold case files, morale is low, and discipline among officers is lax. Then, on only his second day on the job, the body of a Chinese mine owner is unearthed in his own gold quarry. As Dawson investigates the case, he quickly learns how dangerous it is to pursue justice in this kingdom of illegal gold mines, where the worst offenders have so much money they have no fear of the law.
 
Chosen for Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List,” Gold of Our Fathers is “exceptional . . . A window into another culture” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616956318
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/26/2016
Series: A Darko Dawson Mystery , #4
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: eBook
Pages: 368
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Kwei Quartey was born in Ghana and raised by a black American mother and a Ghanaian father. A practicing physician, he lives and works in Pasadena. He is the author of four other critically acclaimed novels in the Darko Dawson series: Wife of the Gods, Children of the Street, Murder at Cape Three Points, and Death by His Grace. Find him on Twitter @Kwei_Quartey and on his website, kweiquartey.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"Now that you're chief inspector," Christine said to Dawson, "does that mean they won't send you to different parts of the country as often as they used to?"

On a late Saturday afternoon at the Mmofra Park, Darko Dawson and his wife, Christine, were sitting in the shade of a neem tree watching their sons, Sly and Hosiah, playing with a group of kids.

Dawson grunted. "Not necessarily. One of our deputy commissioners, which is a very high rank, got moved up all the way up to Bolgatanga."

Bolgatanga was a town in the very north of Ghana, some 460 miles away from Accra.

"I hope that happens to Theophilus Lartey," Christine commented dryly.

Dawson laughed at her entrenched dislike of the man who had been Dawson's boss for several years. She considered Lartey a domineering bully, particularly when it came to sending Dawson off to other parts of the country far from Accra, which was home to the family. For his part, Dawson had always resisted leaving his wife and sons behind for extended periods, only to go down in defeat after a stern warning from Lartey about insubordination and a threat of being fired.

During the last round of promotions two months ago, Lartey had been elevated from chief superintendent to assistant commissioner of police. Dawson had been promoted from detective inspector to chief inspector at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Accra, Ghana. Dawson had mixed feelings about his imminent separation from Lartey. In the first place, although the man could be cantankerous, Dawson was accustomed to him, and he could always depend on Lartey to stand behind his junior officers — barring any malfeasance, of course. As grumpy as he could be, he was scrupulously honest. Dawson's assistant on all his criminal cases, Detective Sergeant — now Inspector — Philip Chikata, also happened to be Lartey's adored nephew. In the early days, that had worked against Dawson, but he had now mastered how to get what he wanted from Lartey through Chikata, and it had proved to be a powerful tool.

Dawson stole a glance at his wife, pretty in form-fitting jeans and a sleeveless Ghanaian print top. Her hair, cinnamon-colored and elaborately braided in the latest style, was gathered behind her neck in a loose bundle. She was never poorly turned out, and Dawson took a secret delight in showing her off.

He felt relaxed with her in this park, Mmofra, meaning "children" in Fante, which provided a safe space for children's play and out-of-classroom learning with exposure to Ghanaian culture in a natural setting. A portion of the grounds was dotted with drought-resistant shrubs and cassava plants, but the rest was uncultivated and waiting for landscaping when funds came in.

Hosiah and Sly were engaged in a game of treasure hunt. The two competing teams, with the help of an adult chaperone, had to consult their table of Adinkra symbols to figure out each clue and how to proceed to the next station. Dawson, no stranger to clues himself, liked the idea of that game with its Ghanaian twist.

Not all the kids were participating in the game. Sitting in chairs carved from tree trunks, one group was poring over children's books, and yet another was on the swings, watched over by a volunteer. A boy and a girl of about seven were playing the traditional board game of oware carved into a recycled log and mounted on a wooden pedestal.

Christine had volunteered herself a few times here after she had discovered the place. Before she'd known about it, she had lamented the lack of a functional playground in Accra. This was one of them, along with the new ecopark at the edge of the city.

Hosiah and Sly came running up, treasure hunt over and the team of the older brother, ten-year-old Sly, triumphant. Hosiah was slightly crestfallen.

"It's okay," Dawson said, pulling him close and hugging him. "Next time you'll beat them."

Hosiah was sweating and Dawson wiped his forehead with a washcloth he had handy. At age eight, Hosiah looked just like his father, with a large contribution from Christine to his deep, expressive eyes. But the incandescent smile that could light up a room and melt even a murderer's heart was all Hosiah's own. Skinny and loose-limbed, Hosiah had had a growth spurt over the last twelve months after cardiac surgery to correct a congenital defect. Sly's physique contrasted with that of his younger brother's. He was already showing the beginnings of teenage muscularity, as is common in boys who have lived on the streets, as Sly had done. Adopted at age eight by Dawson and Christine, it was clear he was not related by birth. Hailing from Northern Ghana, his face was more angular than anyone's in Dawson's family, wide cheekbones tapering sharply to his chin, and his lips were thinner.

He affectionately put his arm around his younger brother's shoulders. "Come on, let's go to the swings. I'll push you."

They ran off together as their parents looked on fondly. Dawson loved to see them together, and he was happy with the way things were going, especially for Hosiah. Because he could now fully participate in sports, he had a lot more friends both in school and out, and he was more outgoing than before. A year ago, before the cardiac surgery that saved him, his condition had worsened, and he had become short of breath with even the slightest exertion. Thank God for the surgeons at Korle Bu, the largest tertiary hospital in the country, who performed Hosiah's expensive surgery on a largely charitable basis.

Sly too was doing well. Many of his rough edges had smoothed out. Fights at school were a problem in the beginning, but his adoptive parents had worked patiently with him to curb his feral instincts. But Sly's fierce protection of his younger brother had been unwavering: anyone attempting to bully Hosiah paid dearly.

So, much contributed to Dawson's feeling of contentment: the lifting of the worries over his beloved boy, his promotion and subsequent uptick — very slight, but better than nothing — in his salary, and Christine's recent promotion to an assistant headmistress at her school.

He glanced at his phone. "Shall we go?" he asked Christine.

She nodded. "I think so."

Dawson walked over to the swings and joined Sly and Hosiah for a few minutes before calling time. Then it was back to the car with Hosiah riding atop his dad's shoulders. Dawson felt remarkably happy, but he should have known that nothing good lasts long. Or more accurately, he did know. He had simply forgotten.

CHAPTER 2

Monday morning Dawson made his way to work on his Honda motorcycle. It was the fastest way to deal with Accra's choked traffic. It was also dangerous. Survival on a motorcycle required a certain level of aggression and without question, catlike reflexes. At Kwame Nkrumah Circle, the new overpass was open, but for all its complexity, Dawson wasn't sure whether it helped or worsened the chaos.

Oh, Ghana, he thought, shaking his head. Why can we never get it right the first time? With his surgical mask on to filter out some of the vehicle exhaust fumes, Dawson wound through cars and tro-tros like a snake evading capture. In Accra's traffic tangle, the margins for vehicles and pedestrians alike were razor thin.

The congestion cleared somewhat once Dawson got onto Ring Road Central, and there was only one more logjam to tackle at the Ako Adjei Interchange before he got to the Criminal Investigations Department Central Headquarters on Ring Road East. Civilian vehicles were no longer allowed in what used to be parking spaces around the building, and even official police vehicles entering were checked underneath with long-handled inspection mirrors. Terrorism wasn't an improbability for Ghana anymore. Often, it engulfed parts of Nigeria only two countries away to the east. One could not be too careful.

Other things had changed too. In the previously empty space between CID and the Ghana Police Headquarters, a separate entity, the public relations building, had been completed. The new structure would have press conference and media rooms with Wi-Fi for reporters to file their stories in a comfortable atmosphere. Evidently the Ghana Police Service (GPS) had decided it was better to win friends and influence people than to make enemies. The seven-story CID building, which had been around for decades, was itself undergoing piecemeal improvements as well. It had a new sun-yellow coat of paint.

Dawson parked the Honda outside the rear wall of the CID premises and walked around to the front entrance, where the sentry, a sergeant, saluted him and deferentially waved him through.

Dawson went up the narrow stairway to the fourth floor detectives' room. Apart from the four large tables and a bunch of scattered chairs, the room was quite bare, with no adornments on the beige walls. This time of the year was the coolest, and a light, refreshing breeze came through the now modern tinted sliding panes that had finally replaced the old-fashioned louvers.

This room was always noisy — a microcosm of Accra itself. Officers of every rank from lance corporal up to chief inspector, Dawson's new title, sat writing reports or stood around perched against the tables talking, arguing, and laughing. Don't people have anything to do? Dawson wondered. He caught a snatch of a debate among four officers on the veracity of a bizarre news item about a woman accused of bestiality, and a more reasoned but just as vociferous discussion around the economic mess Ghana suddenly found itself in. In spite of offshore oil now flowing, the cost of living had shot up. That meant everything: fuel, transportation, food, and lodging. Like so many other Ghanaians, Dawson and Christine had been experiencing the economic pinch with a sinking feeling that Ghana was sliding backward.

In the midst of the racket in the room, two male officers were interviewing a handcuffed male suspect while other officers stood around watching. CID didn't have private interrogation rooms. One used whatever space one could find.

Dawson's junior partner in the Homicide Division of the Crime Unit, Inspector Philip Chikata, was in the middle of another heated discussion with a fellow officer over which soccer team was most likely to win the next Africa Cup.

"Morning, boss," Chikata said, as Dawson pulled up a chair and sat opposite him.

"Morning, Philip."

Dawson shook hands and snapped fingers with Chikata's companion, a corporal who was back from spending two weeks on duty in the mayhem of the charge office on the ground floor.

"How are you?" Dawson greeted him in Twi. "How was charge?"

"Fine, sir," the corporal said. "But I'm glad to be back."

"What do you think?" Chikata asked Dawson. "Ghana will beat Egypt in the next round, anaa am I lying?"

Dawson shook his head. "You know I don't talk sports or politics at work."

"Please, excuse me, sir," the corporal said, standing up. "I have court this morning."

"Later," Dawson said to him, turning back to Chikata to ask him about a cold homicide case they were working on. Cold as the corpse itself. No new leads had materialized over the weekend with Chikata's investigations.

"What should we do next?" he asked Dawson.

"Let's wait for the DNA report."

Chikata sucked his teeth. "This DNA lab. So slow. It's been four weeks now."

"It's not so much the slowness," Dawson said. "It's the backlog."

Chikata conceded the point. Ridiculously handsome and powerfully built, he was sporting a neat regulation mustache these days.

Dawson turned his head toward a loud bang, unmistakably the impact of flesh on flesh. The handcuffed suspect, who could not have been more than twenty-three or so, was reeling from an open-handed slap delivered to his right cheek by a detective sergeant. "Please, I beg you, no —"

"No, what?" The sergeant hit him again. "How do you think your victim felt when you were assaulting him, eh?"

"What's going on over there?" Dawson asked Chikata

"Armed robber," he answered. "They caught him red-handed attacking an elderly man."

The kid was crying and some of the officers began to laugh and derisively call him kwasea, a word for "idiot." Yet another officer whacked him on the back of the head, making the boy shriek and attempt to get away.

"Where are you going?" the sergeant asked, pushing him back into the chair. He raised his palm up again, and the suspect cowered and began pleading again.

Dawson glanced around and saw that for the moment, no one in the room was senior to him in rank. "Jess," he said, quietly.

"Yes, sir," the sergeant said, turning.

Dawson transmitted the message with his eyes. It's enough. "Have you completed the paperwork on the suspect?"

"Almost, sir."

"Okay, then proceed."

The sergeant took his seat and the other officers dispersed. It would have been poor form to chastise an officer in front of a prisoner, but Dawson hadn't wanted the beatings to continue. Vigilante justice was common in Ghana, But as police officers, let's be at least a little above it, he thought. There was one hopeful sign these days: compared to fifteen years ago when Dawson had joined the force, the quality of new police recruits had improved, with many of them holding bachelor's degrees. Perhaps their approach would be more intellectual and less physical.

"Chief Superintendent Oppong is in, by the way," Chikata said, referring to the man who had taken over from Theo Lartey. Dawson detected an over-casual inflection in the inspector's tone. He was going to miss the uncle who had always been like a father to him, but he was being brave about it.

It was perhaps this separation from Lartey that was prompting Chikata to stray in other directions, which concerned Dawson a good deal because he did not want to lose his partner. Chikata had developed an interest in the Panthers Unit, an elite strike force based at CID Central Headquarters. Trained in the use of firearms and tactical maneuvers, the Panthers' officers were the very best: fit, fast, and fierce. Chikata was all that, and that's why Dawson feared he would one day be snatched away.

"You've met the chief super?" Dawson asked.

"Yes," Chikata said, without much enthusiasm. "This morning. He told me to ask you to go up to his office when you get in."

"I will," Dawson said. "What is he like?" Chikata shrugged. "He's okay."

Dawson smiled slightly at the tepid endorsement. "All right," he said, standing. "I'll go now."

He went one flight up to the chief superintendent's office. He couldn't count the number of times over the years that he had made this trek to face Theophilus Lartey, almost invariably a firing squad experience. It felt strange to be going to someone new. The brass nameplate on the solid door now read CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT JOSEPH OPPONG. Dawson knocked and heard the faint "come in" from the other side. As he entered, Dawson immediately took account of the scrupulous tidiness of Oppong's desk, a transformation from Lartey's chaos. The man in the leather executive chair was different too. He was tall and bone thin, whereas Lartey had been diminutive.

Oppong looked up over a pair of half spectacles. He was probably in his midfifties, but his hair was a premature and shocking white. He wore an impeccable dark suit and tie.

In a condensed form of a salute for non-uniformed officers, Dawson put his hands at his side and braced.

"Good morning, Dawson," Oppong said neutrally. He gestured at the chair on the other side of the desk. "Have a seat."

Dawson sat. He didn't know Oppong at all, since the chief superintendent had been stationed outside Accra at different divisional headquarters of the GPS for at least a decade. Dawson's first impression was that he was methodical and quiet — another contrast to Lartey. Anticipating a lecture about what was expected of him, Dawson waited while the chief super flipped the pages of a large notebook in front of him.

"I've just been reading through the hand-over notes from my predecessor, now Assistant Commissioner Lartey," Oppong said, looking over his glasses again. "I have reviewed your file. You've shown good work — apart from some growing pains in the beginning."

That comment, delivered in a voice that sounded to Dawson like a 60-hertz electrical hum, could have been a wry joke, but Oppong cracked not even to trace of a smile. He was referring, no doubt, to Dawson's anger management difficulties years ago — an explosive temper that had slowly settled down since.

Oppong was studying a sheet of paper headed with the GPS insignia. "Were you made aware of your impending transfer to Obuasi?"

Dawson's eyebrows shot up. "Transfer to Obuasi, sir? What transfer?"

Oppong read from the document. "Following the untimely death of Chief Inspector Pascal Addae, supervising crime officer at Obuasi Divisional Headquarters, his post is to be filled for a period of at least one year by Chief Inspector Darko Dawson of CID Headquarters, Accra."

One year? Dawson fell back in his chair, dumbfounded. Oppong looked up at him. "Evidently this comes to you as a surprise."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Gold of Our Fathers"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Kwei Quartey.
Excerpted by permission of Soho Press, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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