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The Missing American

(Emma Djan Investigation #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,048 ratings  ·  213 reviews
Accra private investigator Emma Djan's first missing persons case will lead her to the darkest depths of the email scams and fetish priests in Ghana, the world's Internet capital.

When her dreams of rising through the police ranks like her late father crash around her, 26-year-old Emma Djan is unsure what will become of her life in Accra. Through a sympathetic former colle
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Soho Crime
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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Carolyn Walsh
There is an intriguing and informative story here, but I failed to feel the tension or suspense that its words should have conveyed. I felt it was longer than necessary, and some concentration was needed to keep track of many characters who were not sufficiently developed.

The story gives a less than favourable impression of Ghana. It concentrated on young men (sakawa boys)becoming very wealthy through internet scams if they became successful in their fraudulent business. The most ambitious were
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
This book would translate well to film. It has almost everything you need to make a compelling movie: (1) Interesting, somewhat complex plot, (2) Exotic locale, (3) Large cast of characters to add some complexity to the story line, (4) Lots of local color and atmosphere, (5) Topical themes of internet scams and of political corruption.

This is a mystery/thriller set in modern-day Ghana. Theoretically, the main character is 26-year-old Emma Djan, rookie police officer following in her late father'
Susan Johnson
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the best things about reading is the chance to visit places you have never been. This book takes us to Ghana where an intrepid young policewoman tries to do her job in the face of rampant corruption and even sexual harassment. When she stands up for herself she is fired but bounces back as a private investigator.
Her first case is the missing American who has visited Ghana to visit a woman he met on-line but discovers he has been defrauded for money. He disappears when he tries to find o
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
A new series by Quartey (not Darko Dawson), featuring 26-year-old Emma Djan, who is fired from her boring procedural police job for not succumbing to sexual harassment. A homicide department colleague of her deceased father refers Emma to a private detective agency in Gabon. This agency is hired by American Derek Tilson to find his father Gordon, missing several weeks since arriving in Ghana, the victim of an elaborate internet romance scam, because the local police and U.S. embassy have not hel ...more
This is a relatively slow paced mystery with a really interesting presence--an American man disappears in Ghana after going to visit who he believes to be a woman he's fallen in love with over the internet (and just happens to have given several thousand dollars.) I liked private detective Emma Djan, who has a compelling backstory, but I didn't quite feel like I got to know her because there were so many characters. I'm definitely interested to see how she develops in future installments of the ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
On the cover is the quote: Rich, with the colors of Ghana, this is great Sunshine Noir. What the heck is "sunshine noir" I wondered, and I was off to see what I could learn. I learned it is a response to Scandinavian, or Nordic, Noir. It is supposed to be the same sort of mystery/thriller set in hot places rather than cold ones. I have read few of the cold type and this is my first of the hot type.

As to this offering, it is definitely more thriller than mystery. There was a little more lust in t
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 rounded up

A new Quartey with a new female detective series and new drama. This was an absolute hit for me! Probably my favorite of his wonderful mystery thrillers.
Stephanie Jane
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

The Missing American is a nice crime story with enough twists and turns to unravel its mystery that it kept me hooked throughout. Quartey makes the most of his Ghanaian setting with moments of Sjowall and Wahloo style social commentary that I particularly appreciated. I felt I got a good sense of Atimpoku and how people live there. This novel is much more of a serious crime story than the better known Alexander McCall Smith cosy series, but I
Alison Hardtmann
A lonely widower is befriended on Facebook by a younger Ghanaian woman. They become close and he sends her money for her sister. His best friend, a dying journalist encourages him and he decides to visit her in Ghana. When he arrived, she is nowhere to be found. His friend convinces him to investigate sakawa boys, those who create false identities in order to scam money from unwitting westerners. The man disappears.

Emma joined the police force hoping to investigate murders, but the opportunity
Diamond-Hope Kingston
I'm a really big fan of Kwei's writing but this book just did not seem to do it for me. It was slightly confusing at certain points with subplots being narrated halfway before being abandoned as the author focused on the plot.

Also a bit upset that I really didn't enjoy any of the characters. They were barely given any life or backstory to them and felt very one dimensional which made it hard to love any of them.

2.5/5 stars for me personally on this one.
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this murder mystery, but really wish male authors would refrain from giving lady’s intimate parts special names.
Anschen Conradie
May 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#ThemissingAmerican - Kwei Quartey

Gordon Tilson, a middle-aged American widower, falls prey to an online scam. Unlike similar victims who would rather quietly let it go for fear of ridicule, he decides so conduct in own investigation - in Accra, Ghana. After a few months of ruffling feathers, Gordon disappears. His son, Derek, half-Ghanian by birth, travels to Ghana to search for his father.

The novel explores the Ghanian sakawa system (similar to the Nigerian 419 sch
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
A strong 3.5 stars. I loved visiting Ghana for this dark adventure. It's a compelling mystery with a good deal of action. It was interesting to get a look into the world of internet scammers and the role spiritualists play in African culture. The story line was interesting, and the short chapters kept things moving along. Not rated higher due to the simple writing style and lack of depth to the characters. Would make a great movie in the right hands. (For mysteries with an African setting, I'd g ...more
Paula Lyle
Mar 24, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
There is a lot going on in this novel, not the least of which is its interesting location. Ghana is a compelling setting for this book and learning about it was fascinating. The story has so much going on, that it becomes almost dizzying. Internet scams, police corruption, sexual harassment, fetish priests, affairs, and autistic children is a lot for any plot. I enjoyed Emma Djan but didn't feel that I got to know her very well. Maybe the series will correct that. ...more
This is billed as "sunshine noir", a mix of international mystery & thriller. On one hand, the beginning seemed a little long as various pieces of the story were introduced (including the career background & trajectory since this is the first of a new series), but by the end, the pace definitely picked up & all the various pieces fell into place. The chapters are short, often jumping between characters &/or the timeline as the novel unfolds. (Only one chapter seemed gratuitous & probably could h ...more Mystery & Thriller
My first experience with what has become known as an “internet scam” actually arrived in the form of a snail-mail letter that I received in 1994. The sender advised me that there was 13 million AMD in the account of a deceased citizen in Nigeria that I could acquire if I would be willing to turn over my bank account information and tender in advance an amount equal to a (relatively) small commission plus transmittal fees. These have become much more sophisticated over the course of the last quar ...more
Paula Kaufman
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The title of Kwei Quartey's new book, The Missing American, does not do justice to this first in a new series featuring Emma Djan, former member of the Ghana Police Service turned private detective. I am a fan of mysteries set in countries outside of the U.S. and I have read and admired Quartey's previous Darko Dawson series. The Missing American far exceeds his previous efforts. Emma is a complex character who engages in a complicated set of scams, crimes, and murders that take the reader deep ...more
Glen Hamilton
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m halfway through Quartey’s interwoven tale of Ghanian political intrigue, police corruption, and online swindlers—aided by ritual magic, no less!—and I didn’t want to wait to recommend it. The first in a new series featuring rookie private investigator Emma Djan, The Missing American has as rich a sense of place and atmosphere as one could hope. Emma’s boss and mentor, Sowah, reminds me of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache in his calm, almost humble approach to instructing his subordinates, an ...more
Author Kwei Quartey debuts the first installment of a new mystery series with The Missing American, in which readers are introduced to female protagonist private investigator, Emma Djon. The novel centers on a sakawa or an 'internet scam' in Ghana, that leads to a series of disastrous events that Emma must investigate.

I wish the novel's lyrical pace was a bit more exhilarating. I found myself not as consistently engaged with the prose. Although I had some disappointments with this book, it was n
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So slow. Unsatisfying. So many extraneous characters. And a sex scene featuring a woman that has her vagina referred to as “her pleasure grotto”. Wtf. Was disappointed after that scene that this series is featuring a female detective (yay!) written by a man. :/. Will not be reading the second installment.
This was 3.5 read for me.

Thoughts coming shortly
Jul 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a good start to a new series by Kwei Quartey. The main action, like in his Darko Dawson series, is in Accra, Ghana, though this novel is bigger in scope, including the murky, sordid world behind the internet-based scams (like the 419 scams originating in Nigeria).

Emma Djan is a young police officer, keen to work as a homicide detective, but who spends her time analyzing commercial-based fraud, which she finds tedious. After a humiliating and terrible interview for the homicid
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
After a very slow start that almost made me give up this became pretty interesting! While most of the story was focused on political corruption and internet scammers it was the depiction of daily life in Ghana that was truly fascinating. Like in most countries it is a tale of social class and wealth with the wealthy enjoying privileged lives and the poor either struggling or resorting to crime to survive. The fetish priests play on this desperation and take advantage of this desire for more in r ...more
Despite previously trying to put off reviews until I was in a 'better mood' to write them, I think I now realise my best reviews are the ones I start writing as soon as I finish the book, if not during. Sigh.

THE MISSING AMERICAN had a very ambitious start, jumping between several narrative threads that gradually and seamlessly came together quickly enough for the reader to latch onto them all. I liked the short chapters, allowing for a lot of dynamism.
The novel is rich with themes, commentary, a
Cathy Cole
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
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,
Tim Nokken
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging story about the plight of an American who travels to Ghana to see the woman he met online only to discover he was the victim of an internet scam. From there, we learn how these scams and corruption in general pervade large swaths of the Ghanaian society and police force. That said, this is done very well through the introduction of interesting characters. The only quibble I had is the story ends rather quickly, but overall a really interesting read.
Mary Ahlgren
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this glimpse into so many facets of Ghanaian life.
Susan Talend
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 really. Interesting location. Intriguing topic. Liked the characters. I had it all figured out, though, but a pretty decent read.
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
That was a lot of fun! Can't wait to read the next. I hope Emma will get stronger and more independent in her detective work as the series continues. ...more
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Will link to review when published.
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Kwei Quartey is a crime fiction writer and physician based in Pasadena, California. In 2018, having practiced medicine for more than 15 years while simultaneously working as a writer, Quartey finally retired from medical practice to become a full-time novelist. Prior to that, though, he had balanced the two professions by dedicating the early morning hours to writing before

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Emma Djan Investigation (2 books)
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