The blurb from Booklist on the back of this murder mystery compares the series to the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, perhaps because it is also set in Africa. They are just plain wrong. This book is darker. Like dark coffee compared to a lighter version.
Unlike Precious Ramsotwe of Botswana, Detective Darko Dawson of Ghana goes around beating the daylights out of perps he doesn’t like. It’s kind of refreshing, actually, since they’re wife beaters, fake healers, and other bad guys.
But this style of policing only works if your policeman is halfway competent. Another policeman with similar methods, out in the bush, beats a young man almost to death to “make him confess” because he’s convinced that he murdered a young woman. The village policeman just” knows” this because the young man once stole fruit from the market.
In Ghana, people still believe in magic and traditional healing. It’s mostly a good thing. Unfortunately, some of the traditional beliefs don’t seem to be in the best interests of women. The trokosi, or wives of the gods. for example. Virgins given to fetish priests as second, third, and fourth wives to ameliorate “crimes” their family has committed. Young human sacrifices to dissolute men old enough to be their grandfathers. Ugh.
There is a lot of Ghana in this book…culture, countryside, beliefs, food. I enjoyed the relationships between the characters and how complex they were. I loved the book and can’t wait for the next Darko novel to come out. (I’m kind of on pins and needles to see if he’s going to get suspended for not controlling his temper!)
Rating: 5 heaping helpings of Auntie Osewa’s delicious cooking!