Monday, January 13, 2020

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey

First Line: Lying flat with the stock of the long-range rifle pressed against his shoulder, the assassin positioned himself on the gable roof of the UT Bank building off Shippers Council Road.

Working in an Apple store is not what Emma Djan had in mind, but when her dreams of becoming a homicide detective on the Accra police force in Ghana come crashing down around her, she knows her bills won't pay themselves. Fortunately, Emma soon finds herself working for a well-respected private detective agency that takes on cases of missing persons.

Emma begins work on the case of Gordon Tilson, a middle-aged widower from Washington, DC, who disappeared after coming to Ghana to meet the woman he'd fallen in love with online. When the police seem unconcerned about his father's disappearance, Derek Tilson contacts the agency, and Emma soon finds herself in the middle of a case filled with online scams, fetish priests, corruption, and people willing to kill to keep their secrets.

I have been a fan of Kwei Quartey's Darko Dawson series since the first book, Wife of the Gods. I was thrilled to discover that The Missing American has the same superb sense of place as Quartey's previous series. Readers can feel as though they're actually in Ghana while they read; the landscape, weather, people, food, and culture give the story a richness that I find irresistible.

Although I loved reading this book, I did find it a bit bloated with a lot of "irons in the fire." Internet scams, sexual harassment, an assassin on the loose, corrupt police and government officials, a center for autistic children, murder, and missing persons just to mention a few. It's a lot to keep track of, and some of that action undoubtedly could have waited for upcoming books in the series.

The characters in The Missing American are an interesting mix. I couldn't really drum up a lot of sympathy for the missing American, which probably sounds a bit harsh, but I certainly do like Emma Djan, whose character is a good blend of intelligence, frailty, and strength. I also want to know more about her boss in the agency, Yemo Sowah. He's a fascinating man surrounded by a bit of mystery-- just the sort of character to pique my curiosity.

Now that Kwei Quartey's new Emma Djan series has well and truly begun, I find myself looking forward with a great deal of anticipation to my next visit to Ghana.

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey
ISBN: 9781641290708
Soho Crime © 2020
Hardcover, 432 pages

Private Investigator, #1 Emma Djan mystery
Rating: A-
Source: the publisher



  1. Oh, I do want to try this, Cathy, even if there are a lot of things to keep track of in the book. I like Quartey's writing, and his Darko Dawson series, and this sounds like it's got the same sense of place and context and character development. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. I did. Quartey is one of the authors I always think of when I want a book with a superb sense of place.

  2. Oh, yes, I am definitely getting this one. I really like his Darko Dawson books and this one sounds great. Africa, here I come...

  3. I already had this on my list, so I'm glad to have this review as reinforcement!

    1. I'm glad to hear it's on your list. I really like Quartey's books.


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