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Wife of the Gods (Darko Dawson #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  1,824 Ratings  ·  387 Reviews
Introducing Detective Inspector Darko Dawson: dedicated family man, rebel in the office, ace in the field—and one of the most appealing sleuths to come along in years. When we first meet Dawson, he’s been ordered by his cantankerous boss to leave behind his loving wife and young son in Ghana’s capital city to lead a murder investigation: In a shady grove outside the small ...more
Hardcover, 317 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Random House
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Blood River by Tim ButcherThings Fall Apart by Chinua AchebeThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverHalf of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieChasing the Devil by Tim Butcher
1,296 books — 1,336 voters
Wife of the Gods by Kwei QuarteyThe Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei ArmahGhana Must Go by Taiye SelasiPowder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-HammondThe Civilized World by Susi Wyss
Books Set in Ghana
113 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

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Sep 04, 2012 Trish rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, audio
This is first in a series about Detective Darko Dawson of Accra in Ghana. I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw it in a bookstore a couple of years ago and I was thrilled to be able to dip into it when I came across the audio version this summer.

I don’t mind telling you that when I first listened to it, I was interrupted three-quarters of the way in and had to set the book aside. I didn’t really mind because midway through the novel I found myself wondering if I should trust Darko Da
Sep 29, 2014 Skip rated it really liked it
I liked this novel much better than another Ghaniain author's Tail of the Blue Bird. Darko Dawson is a police inspector in Accra, who is called to investigate the death of a young female AIDS worker in a village where his mother disappeared many years prior. The author sets up four possible suspects: a young boy, the high priest, the holistic medicine man, and the girl's boss, and does a respectable job integrating modern life with varioud tribal beliefs. There are some good underlying stories, ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
After finishing another book set in Ghana, Homegoing, I thought I should go back to this book. I first started it back in July 2015, when I included it in a pile of books I was "speed dating." It passed the 50 page test and went back on the shelf until now. I'm still working my way through reading a book from every country, and now Ghana is covered!

This is a solid crime novel featuring Darko Dawson, who is called in from Accra to help with an investigation of the murder of an AIDS relief worker.
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 26, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it it was ok
The story of a West African detective in Ghana begins with a weak prologue--a nightmare squeezed from the pages of former dime-store books. The following (first) chapter opens with promise--a dead body. Then the author tries too hard to tell the story. That's the problem--too much telling and not enough showing. The sentences read like announcements or headlines and the prose is shopworn and musty, hauled from a high-school creative writing course. The author is also on an adverb and gerund fren ...more
Friederike Knabe
Feb 05, 2012 Friederike Knabe rated it liked it
Shelves: africa, african-lit
"What if the truth is more terrible than the forest?"

Darko, the child is frightened as the mother disappears into nothing; Darko Dawson, the adult, has a recurring dream: his mother walks with him through the forest and urges him along... It is not any forest, but a forest he remembers from his childhood, near the village of Ketanu, the place where his mother disappeared all these years ago. A powerful beginning for Kwei Quartey's debut novel, "Wife of the Gods", no question. And the village and
Aug 10, 2010 Beth rated it it was amazing

WIFE OF THE GODS is two stories. The first story begins with the discovery of the body of Gladys Mensah in the forest outside the town of Ketanu. Gladys is a medical student and a volunteer AIDS worker. Efia finds the body early one morning. “Efia was a trokosi, which meant she belonged to the gods.” In Efia’s life that means belonging to Togbe Adzima, the chief and the High Priest of the village. Eighteen years earlier, Efia’s uncle murdered a man and, although he is in prison, the family has b
Mocha Girl
Oct 11, 2009 Mocha Girl rated it really liked it
Kwei Quartay's debut is an entertaining debut that not only focuses on Darko Dawson, the family man and the detective, but immerses the reader in Ghanaian culture and traditions, and introduces a cast of lively characters. The novel opens with the murder of a young AIDS prevention worker in the same remote region Darko's mother disappeared 25 years earlier while visiting her sister. He is assigned to support the local police because he speaks Ewe and dives into the case with a practiced, methodi ...more
Aug 25, 2011 Babydoll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Any attempts of becoming dissatisfied with this book will be close to impossible. For, Wife of the Gods is that impressive of a narrative. Consisting of suspense, mystery, and adventure, it is not surprising that Kwei Quartey gained noteworthy attention for this gripping novel.

Wife of the Gods is a spellbinding mystery, set in Ghana and taking place within the vigorous capitol of Accra and small town of Ketanu. Readers are introduced to the main character, Detective Darko Dawson, living contente
Apr 12, 2015 Pat rated it really liked it
Book #1 set in Ghana featuring D.I. Darko Dawson. D.I. Dawson is asked to help investigate the murder of Gladys Mensah, a promising medical student working in AIDS education in the bush villages. Dawson is asked to go to the village of Ketanu, his home village for his mother who disappeared from there while visiting family. Darko has never gone back since her disappearance so he has more to deal with than just a murder investigation.

A good beginning to a series new to me.
First Sentence: The forest was black and Darko was afraid to enter.

DI Darko Dawson is ordered to investigate the murder of a young woman in Kentau, the town from which his mother disappeared many years before. Fighting an incompetent local policeman, superstition and a local priest to whom young women are given as trokosi or wives of the gods, Dawson sets about trying to solve both mysteries and prevent an innocent man from being hanged.

I very much enjoyed this book. On one hand, it is look and
Jun 05, 2016 Carla rated it really liked it
I don't normally review my Book Club books on here until after our discussion, but I will be away from the meeting this month, so thought I'd just go ahead and have my say now. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Our club members are AVID "series" readers and this category for our book club challenge was "the first in a series by a person of colour". We've read a few "series" books in the last few years and I'm not a big fan. Particularly when we read one book that some members insisted could be rea ...more
Jan 02, 2010 Jon rated it liked it
A very interesting read, although not an especially puzzling mystery to people who read a lot of them. Written almost entirely in simple, declarative sentences (I'm not sure there's a complex sentence or a subjunctive in the entire book), it gives the illusion of being innocent and amiable--very reminiscent of Mma Ramotswe's adventures in Botswana. But this detective is a much more divided personality, and the crimes he must uncover involve some activities far darker than anything McCall Smith w ...more
Joyce Lagow
Apr 20, 2010 Joyce Lagow rated it really liked it
An Early Reviewer book.[return][return]Quartey s debut novel is set in modern Ghana, and features Inspector Detective Darko Dawson. Stationed in the capital, Accra, he nevertheless is assigned to lead the investigation into the murder of a young medical student, Gladys Mensah, in Ketanu, in the Volta Rivber region; Dawson has relatives in Ketanu, his Auntie Osewa and Uncle Kweku and speaks Ewe, the regional language. And additional connection is that his mother disappeared, never to be found, fr ...more
Nitya Sivasubramanian
Jun 13, 2015 Nitya Sivasubramanian rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4star
Absolutely loved this book! Steering clear of the squee-ness of Precious Ramotswe, this author manages weave an intriguing murder mystery that somehow feels like authentic Ghana. Adding this layer of an unfamiliar environment to an otherwise fairly typical detective story elevates it to the level of memorable and has left me thirsting for more from this author.
Prima Seadiva
More like 2.5. Reader was okay.
If it was not set in Ghana with some of the cultural descriptions (which were the most interesting parts) it would be pretty much a standard sort of maverick detective murder mystery. An okay summer read.
This is first in a series about Detective Darko Dawson of Accra in Ghana. I have wanted to read this book ever since I saw it in a bookstore a couple of years ago and I was thrilled to be able to dip into it when I came across the audio version this summer.

I don’t mind telling you that when I first listened to it, I was interrupted three-quarters of the way in and had to set the book aside. I didn’t really mind because midway through the novel I found myself wondering if I should trust Darko Da
Mar 01, 2012 Florinda rated it liked it
In his first novel, Wife of the Gods, Kwei Quartey introduces us to an intriguing lead character, an exotic setting, and a story that takes some compelling twists and turns along the way. When a young female medical student is murdered in the forest between two small villages in the Volta Region of Ghana, big-city detective Darko Dawson is sent to take over the investigation from the tiny local police force. Dawson knows the native language and has a history with the villages; his mother came fr ...more
Dec 05, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it
Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey is an impressive debut, a murder mystery set in modern Ghana. The reader quickly learns the mystery is who killed Gladys, a promising medical student, as she was on her way home to Ketanu, a small village in the Volta region. Efia, a wife of the Gods, is the one who stumbles across Gladys’ body, in a forest that separates two villages. As in any small village, the news spreads quickly and everyone has an opinion on who committed the murder. But another mystery al ...more
This book was read for my 2016 Reading Challenge Around the World in 80 Books

Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is a good detective. He’s a good family man. He’s a hard worker. But when he’s called on to investigate the mysterious death of an aspiring young woman, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson begins to spiral out of control. This case will push Dawson to his limits as a father, as a son, as a nephew, as a detective, and as a man. As a detective from the capital city of Ghana, Dawson is worki
Jun 16, 2009 PDXReader rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery lovers
Recommended to PDXReader by:
Every time I see this book mentioned, somewhere it says something about the No. 1 Ladies' Detective series. I'm completely at a loss as to why this is. The only things the books have in common is that they're mysteries, and they're set in Africa. In fact, I think it very unlikely that readers who like the Alexander McCall Smith series will find this novel enjoyable.

First, Wife of the Gods is a top-notch mystery. It completely holds ones attention, and will keep readers guessing the identity of t
Mary Helene
Nov 26, 2014 Mary Helene rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This brought back such vivid memories of Ghana! Well told, well told and so accurately reflecting the Ghana I knew but with cell phones added.
I attended one fetish priest ceremony and I was seriously impressed with its efficacy. A woman who had just given birth to her 3rd child didn’t want to take care of it. It was obvious she must be possessed by an evil spirit, so the village shut down business as usual, took care of her children, put her in a special hut with special food and had a huge banq
Jul 07, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it
Because he's the only available police investigator who can speak the local indigenous language, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson is sent out to the village of Ketanu to assist the inquiry into the death of a young medical student. (As it happens, it's the same village his mother--who mysteriously vanished when he was a young boy--grew up in, so this gives him a chance to reacquaint himself with relatives he hasn't seen in 25 years...) Dawson has to contend with a local police chief who resents ...more
Oct 14, 2012 Adrienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author tried to put other characters to be a possible murderer of the young, 22, medical student Gladys Mensah. I am towards the last 100 pages and saying, come on, who dunnit! I have my suspensions.

What I enjoyed most was the author captured the essence of Ghana, their older customs and traditions, witchcraft/voodoo, and even those who practice things of today. The high priest/shine, Togbe Adzima, had many wives and get them when they are ripe (reached puberty). I didn't know this is still
Jun 24, 2010 Linda rated it really liked it
Interesting mystery set in Ghana that touches on polygamy, witchcraft, and western medicine.
Inspector Darko Dawson ability to speak Ewe gets him sent from Accra to his mother's hometown to investigate the murder of a medical student who was a volunteer AIDS educator. The case eventually turns out to involve his own personal mystery, the disappearance of his mother years before.

I liked Darko, despite his overfondness for smoking pot. He's devoted to his wife and son, and has a sense of justice. I
Sep 19, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-ghana
Another page turner that I couldn't put down. This is the first in the series and it was better than the second book. Darko is a good police officer but he does have some lapses in judgment especially when he returns to visit family for an unrelated case that soon becomes all too "related." We see a glimpse into rural Africa and witchcraft and it's not pretty. But what happens here is the same everywhere; envy and jealousy combining with ignorance eventually result in murder(s). The ending is em ...more
Jul 30, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, fun-mysteries
Det. Darko Dawson of Ghana's CID travels to a rural village to investigate the murder of a young med student/AIDs education volunteer. The book has everything I look for in a mystery:richly drawn intriguing characters, a vivid cultural and physical background, and a mystery that keeps me guessing with classic red herrings, multiple suspects, good cops and bad (very bad) cops. Grittier than Alexander McCall Smith, but more focus on character development than on gore. I look forward to more from t ...more
Kelsey Hanson
Jan 16, 2015 Kelsey Hanson rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
It's amazing how often I read books about warm exotic locations during the month of January (I live in Wisconsin. It's cold!). This story takes place in Ghana and I was pretty excited about that. This book starts out a bit slow, but gradually picks up. It gives a very realistic look at the AIDS crisis in Africa and the many issues that stand in the way of AIDS workers including culture and tradition as well as financial issues. The detective was hard-boiled but there are enough moments of levity ...more
Aug 18, 2011 Nakia rated it really liked it
Would rather give it 3.5 stars.
"At one point, I didnt think I would enjoy this story, but I was eventually so invested in the characters and their secrets and customs and affairs, I felt like I was reading a script for an original Lifetime movie. The suspects were plenty, the drama was high, and just when you think Darko has the culprit figured out…NOPE!!..." (full review at
Mar 18, 2016 Deera rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: international
Bustle Reads Book About an Indigenous Culture, maybe.

I really need to go find something light to read. So much RAGE; that's all I felt while reading this novel. Hurt people hurting other people. Crazy people hurting people. Sick people hurting people.

The prose was beautiful. I listened on audio and the narrator left a little to be desired, but the story was so good I couldn't stop. I couldn't believe who the killer was in the end.

I need to go have a drink now.
Connie Regan
Apr 07, 2014 Connie Regan rated it really liked it
Inspector Darko Dawson is an intriguing character, boldly smokes marijuana because it relaxes him and he thinks the law against it is stupid. He and his wife are trying to save enough money for heart surgery for their son. A promising medical student has been murdered in the small town of Ketanu and Dawson is assigned to sort through the evidence. Dawson is a detective who is down to earth and believable who is up against superstitions, age old customs and long buried family secrets.
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Kwei Quartey is a crime fiction writer and physician living in Pasadena, California. Having practiced medicine for more than 20 years while simultaneously working as a writer, he has attained noteworthy achievements in both fields. Dr. Quartey balances the two professions by dedicating the early morning hours to writing before beginning a day in his clinic.

Kwei Quartey attended medical school at H
More about Kwei Quartey...

Other Books in the Series

Darko Dawson (5 books)
  • Children of the Street (Darko Dawson #2)
  • Murder at Cape Three Points (Darko Dawson #3)
  • Gold of Our Fathers (Darko Dawson #4)
  • Death by His Grace (Darko Dawson #5)

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