Book Review: Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey

Gold of Our FathersGold of Our Fathers
A Darko Dawson Mystery #4
Kwei Quartey
Soho Crime, April 2016
ISBN 978-1-61695-630-1

Chief Inspector Darko Dawson of the Ghana Police is transferred far from his home in the capital Accra for a year. Should he uproot his family? His wife Christine has just received a promotion at her school, and his sons Sly and Hosiah are doing well. The new position is in Obusai, 160 miles way in the Ashanti region. While he is debating this problem, there is a suspicious death to investigate on his first day on the job. The owner of an illegal Chinese gold mine is found buried in one of the gold pits by one of the teenage laborers. The suspects include the mining boys and other mine operators, and a Ghanian equipment operator.

His colleagues at the new station are a sorry lot. There are piles of uncataloged evidence, stacks of cold case files, and a sloppy and undisciplined attitude among the officers. He bypasses the local police force to seek help from his partner in Accra, Philip Chikata, who not only has the skills but the connections to cut through bureaucratic red tape.

Quartey gives an inside look to policing in Ghana, where terrorism is always a possibility and vigilante justice is common. Law enforcement and government is shot through with corruption. Police vehicles are few and far between, and investigating officers either take a cab to the scene of the crime or hitch a ride with the victim’s family.

Darko is an admirable police officer, honest and hardworking, and struggling everyday against the impossibilities of the police hierarchy. The African landscape comes to life, with all its contradictory beauty and ugliness.

The author, a practicing physician, was born in Ghana, of an American mother and Ghanian father. This is the fourth book in the series. Readers who like Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu series will find much to like in this book.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, May 2016.