Book Review: The Missing American

Kwei Quartey’s newest novel, The Missing American, opens with a sniper assassination of a Ghanaian presidential candidate, and then we are introduced to Emma Djan, whose dreams of a promising career in the Ghana Police Service are dashed when she tearfully refuses an offer of a position in Homicide in return for sex.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police who relieves her of her duties, suspects “something happened,” and refers her to the owner of a detective agency where she is immediately hired.

Her first case is that of a missing American named Gordon Tilson, a lonely widower who has fallen in love with a Ghanaian beauty named Helen, whom he meets on the internet. Excitedly, he decides to go to Accra to see what destiny holds for the two of them. To his dismay, he soon finds out there is no Helen, and he has been scammed out of thousands of dollars. Then Gordon goes missing. 

Now Emma needs to solve this case for the client, Derek Tilson, and prove to her new boss that he made a good decision in hiring her as a private detective.  However, there are those who will not only thwart her efforts, but kill to keep their secrets.

The novel takes the reader deep into internet scams, fetish priests and corruption, while also offering a look into Ghana’s food, people and culture. This is not a fast-paced crime novel, but is deliberate, and the pieces all tie together at the end. 

I liked Emma and was glad to see that even with a new job where it was extremely important that she prove herself, she still made regular time to volunteer for a very special cause.

Crime fiction readers will enjoy the novel and be treated to the cultural rhythms of Ghana. I look forward to The Second Emma Djan Investigation.

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