The Missing American by Kwei Quartey

February 8, 2020 at 9:42 pm (Book review, books, Mystery fiction)

Emma Djian is uninspired – to put it mildly – by her work in the Ghana Police Service’s Commercial Crimes Unit. She longs for the excitement and challenges of the homicide division. She applies for a position in that elite group, but in the course of the interview process, an awful thing happens to her. And it happens deep within the police force itself.

Suddenly Emma is out – sacked. But a kindly soul refers her to a private investigation company, where there may be a position waiting for an enterprising soul such as herself. This, then, is the  opening into the world of criminal investigation that Emma has been seeking.

Meanwhile, a world away in the U.S., Gordon Tilson, a widower, has been corresponding with a Ghanaiain woman via social media. She identifies herself as Helena Barfour. A romance develops, in the course of which Tilson sends money to Helena, to help her with a family emergency. At length, the lovers affirm  their desire to be together. In pursuit of this goal, Gordon Tilson boards a plane that will take him to Ghana, and to his love.

As you have probably guessed, things do not go as planned. Or at least, not as Gordon had planned.

The Missing American provides a rich immersion in the culture of Ghana, a country about which I know very little. And Emma Djian is a wonderful character – bright, personable, and in her own quiet way determined to make  career in law enforcement. I’m hoping we’ll see more of her in the future.

A character in The  Missing American disguises himself in the same manner as the man in this photo:

Kwei Quartey has written five novels featuring Darko Dawson, a CID detective in Accra, Ghana’s capital city. I was sufficiently taken with The Missing American that I am now reading the first book in this series, Wife of the Gods.

Kwei Quartey’s dedication at the front of this novel reads as follows:

To Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a Ghanaian journalist martyred on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

You can read about this in a BBC article entitled Murder in Accra.


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