Ghana’s most celebrated women’s fashion designer has been murdered in her bed, and the police investigation has, as is so often the case, gone awry. Lacking even a shred of evidence, they’ve arrested and imprisoned without trial Lady Araba’s driver and prevented the police lab from analyzing DNA gathered at the scene. Months later, Lady Araba’s sister-in-law hires the Sowah private detective agency to ferret out the truth. Emma Djan, her colleagues Walter, Gideon, and Jojo, and Temo Sowah himself all go undercover in a series of sometimes dangerous assignments in Kwei Quartey’s engrossing Ghana murder mystery, Sleep Well, My Lady.
A conventional mystery in an unconventional setting
Like so many (perhaps too many) mystery novels, Sleep Well, My Lady is a whodunit. Emma Djan and her colleagues find reasons to suspect new characters, one after another. If, like me, you have limited patience for the contrivances that make whodunits work, you may be tempted to overlook this novel. But the setting, which is unusual for most Western readers (decidedly including me), offers rewards that the likes of mysteries set in English country manors do not. And Quartey makes the most of the Ghanaian locale, painting an intriguing picture of the country’s elite that can only have come from intimate personal connections. Had this Ghana murder mystery been set instead in contemporary England or the US, it would not have been nearly so interesting.
Sleep Well, My Lady (Emma Djan #2) by Kwei Quartey (2021) 262 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)
Geographically challenged? This is Ghana
Ghana lies on the West Coast of Africa 560 miles north of the Equator. Its thirty million people power one of the most dynamic economies on the continent. The International Monetary Fund forecasts 4.2% growth above inflation in Ghana’s GDP in 2021. A former British colony known as the Gold Coast, Ghana has been independent since 1957. The official language is English, although some eighty other tongues are also in use there. Twi, a variant of Akan spoken by many of Quartey’s characters, is one of the most common. Ghana’s capital, Accra, houses a population estimated at 4.2 million.
On Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, Ghana ranks eightieth out of 180 countries studied. Its score is 41, equivalent to that of China, India, and Morocco, and far, far higher than South Sudan at 12 and Somalia at 9, the two lowest countries in the ranking.
About the author
Kwei Quartey is a retired Ghanaian-American physician and author. Sleep Well, My Lady is the eighth of the detective novels he has written since 2009 and the second in his new Emma Djan series. Quartey was born to a Ghanaian father and an African-American mother, both of whom were university lecturers. He was educated both in Ghana and in the United States and possesses degrees from Howard University and the University of California, Los Angeles. If anyone is well equipped to write a Ghana murder mystery, it’s Kwei Quartey.
For additional reading
Previously I reviewed the first novel in the Emma Djan series, The Missing American at A nitty-gritty view of Ghana today in this inventive detective novel.
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