Earlier this week, NPR had a conversation with Kwei Quartey, whose debut novel Wife of the Gods introduced Ghanian Detective Inspector Darko Dawson, and was on our list of the best mysteries of 2009.
Quartey, who was born in Ghana and is currently a physician with an urgent care center in southern California, points out that there are many similarities between his life as a doctor and his work as a mystery writer, since both involve following clues to reach a conclusion.
"When a detective interviews a suspect or a witness, it's very much like a physician interviewing a patient, because a patient comes in with something that is often a mystery on its own," he says. "And in the end, when the doctor makes his diagnosis, it's exactly like the detective finding the culprit."
Listen to the entire conversation with NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday host Liane Hansen here, where you can also find an excerpt from the novel. You can read our review of Wife of the Gods on Mysterious Reviews.
About Wife of the Gods: In a shady grove outside the small town of Ketanu, a young woman—a promising med student—has 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 Ketanu’s 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 mother’s 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.
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