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Darko Dawson #2

Children of the Street

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In the slums of Accra, Ghana’s fast-moving, cosmopolitan capital, teenagers are turning up dead. Inspector Darko Dawson has seen many crimes, but this latest string of murders—in which all the young victims bear a chilling signature—is the most unsettling of his career. Are these heinous acts a form of ritual killing or the work of a lone, cold-blooded monster? With time running out, Dawson embarks on a harrowing journey through the city’s underbelly and confronts the brutal world of the urban poor, where street children are forced to fight for their very survival—and a cunning killer seems just out of reach.

334 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2011

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About the author

Kwei Quartey

13 books558 followers
KWEI QUARTEY
Biography

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 beginning each day in his clinic.

Quartey was born in Ghana, West Africa, to a Ghanaian father and Black American mother, both of whom were lecturers at the University of Ghana. Quartey describes how his family’s home was full of hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, which inspired him to write novellas as early as the age of eight or nine. By then, Quartey was certain he wanted to be an author.

But his interests shifted by the time he was a teenager, when he decided he wanted to be a doctor. Quartey began on a science-to-medicine track in secondary school. After the death of his father, Quartey’s mother returned to the United States. By then, Quartey had already begun medical school in Ghana. Transferring to a medical school in the United States wasn’t easy, but he successfully gained admission to Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, DC.

After graduation from his residency training in Internal Medicine, Kwei Quartey returned to his love of writing. He went to a UCLA extension course in creative writing, and wrote two novels while in a writing group that met every Wednesday evening. But it would be a few years yet before Quartey would create the Inspector Darko Dawson series.

As a crime fiction writer, Kwei made the Los Angeles Times Bestseller List in 2009. The following year, the GOG National Book Club voted him Best Male Author. The five Inspector Darko Dawson novels, set in Ghana, are WIFE OF THE GODS, CHILDREN OF THE STREET, MURDER AT CAPE THREE POINTS, GOLD OF OUR FATHERS, and DEATH BY HIS GRACE.

Two novels, KAMILA and DEATH AT THE VOYAGER HOTEL (e-book) are non-Darko books.

In January 2020, Quartey’s new detective series launched to critical acclaim with THE MISSING AMERICAN, the debut of the Emma Djan Investigations and the introduction of the first West African female private eye in fiction. The second in the series, SLEEP WELL, MY LADY, was released January 12, 2021, immediately garnering attention for its unusual style of time shifts in relation to the crime.

THE MISSING AMERICAN was nominated for the 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel, and won the 2021 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 172 reviews
1,541 reviews80 followers
February 11, 2021
I am enjoying this detective series. The crimes are solved largely by the power of observation and deduction. The detective is a great character, just flawed enough to be sympathetic, virtuous enough to be admirable and with a family back story complex enough to make the reader root for all of them. Best of all is the interesting setting of Ghana, a society I rarely get a glimpse into. Where this book loses points is in the rather ordinary writing. The dialogue can be a bit flat, the descriptions clichéd. When a minor female character was described as having “succulent breasts” I deducted half a point. 3.5 stars
Profile Image for Mocha Drop.
318 reviews2 followers
August 8, 2011
It Takes a Village...

Kwei Quartey's latest novel returns to Ghana, where there is an estimated 60,000 children roaming the streets of Accra and someone is killing them and mutilating their bodies. Detective Darko Dawson is on the case capturing the readers' hearts with his selfless acts of compassion and dedication, caring and sharing when and where many others would not. Children of the Street hones in on an actual, persistent problem of youth from all regions of Ghana converging on its capital in search of jobs and a better life. They are homeless, poor, malnourished, often abused and under-educated -- to many they are a blight, a nuisance, unwelcome and unwanted; to others they are prey waiting to be exploited often falling victim to prostitution, drugs, disease, thievery and ultimately death. As Darko methodically works through the clues, asks favors and uses every resource available to find the serial killer, the reader resonates with the underlying truth that their daily plights and nightly fights for survival as described in the book only scratches the surface of their bleak reality.

As with Wife of the Gods (which I enjoyed), this novel was not only an enjoyable read for the police procedural/suspense genre, but from a cultural one as well. As an American/Western reader, Quartey's rendering of everyday life in Ghana brings forth an acute awareness of the subtle and overt differences in lifestyle, access to information, health care, and resource availability (human, hard/software, etc), public works, public safety, etc., which I found equally (if not more) interesting than the mystery. Recommended to those interested in cross-cultural reads, crime fiction and solid detective-oriented novels.

This book was purchased by the reviewer.

Reviewed by Phyllis
APOOO Literary Reviews
Profile Image for Skip.
3,226 reviews394 followers
October 30, 2014
Street kids are being murdered and mutilated in Accra, Ghana, with the bodies dumped in filthy locations. Inspector Darko Dawson is assigned the case, and is frustrated that resources are being allocated to more important murders. Darko has a big heart, and is always trying to help the less fortunate. He reaches out for support from many places: a journalist, a professor, street kids, a reformed drug dealer, etc. and slowly sorts through a lengthy and heterogeneous group of suspects. His determination and moral compass are the best part of this excellent series by Kwei Quartey.
Profile Image for Mal Warwick.
Author 28 books387 followers
February 1, 2022
We Americans have come to regard the growing homeless population on the streets of our cities as a crisis. After all, “There are an estimated 553,742 people in the United States experiencing homelessness on a given night,” according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Without question, this is indeed a crisis for American democracy. But homelessness is a global reality. According to the best estimate, some 150 million people are homeless around the world. The challenge is greatest in Pakistan, with an estimated 20 million homeless, and Egypt, with 12 million. But it’s difficult to travel to a city of any appreciable size anywhere on the planet without encountering people sleeping on the street. As Kwei Quartey reveals in his outstanding African police procedural, Children of the Street, some 60,000 children live on the streets of Accra, a city of just 2.6 million that is Ghana’s capital.

A SERIAL KILLER IS TARGETING STREET CHILDREN
Darko Dawson and his sergeant are called out to the scene when the body of a 16-year-old boy is found lying in filth near the Korle Lagoon off Ghana’s coast. Dawson is a detective inspector with the Criminal Investigation Department Homicide Division. And despite the hasty conclusion of the constables on the scene to the contrary, this is indeed murder. The killer has mutilated the body in a particularly gruesome manner. And as Dawson and his superiors will soon learn, this is but the first of a string of similar murders. A serial killer is loose, preying on Accra’s street children.

DARKO DAWSON IS NO SUPERHERO
Little shocks Darko Dawson. But the murders of these children strike home to him in personal way. He is the father of a seven-year-old son who suffers from congenital heart disease. Darko and his wife, Christine, dote on the boy. But neither of them makes enough money to cover the enormous cost of the cardiac operation Hosiah desperately needs. While Dawson pursues the serial killer with increasing urgency, he and Christine nonetheless explore every conceivable avenue to obtain the necessary care for their son. Meanwhile, Dawson struggles to overcome his own shortcomings. He is impulsive and possesses an explosive temper which sometimes erupts in violence. And he has a deep-seated weakness for marijuana, which is illegal in Ghana. He finds the opportunity to smoke “wee” a daily challenge.

A REVEALING POLICE PROCEDURAL
Children of the Street is a police procedural. In the telling, Kwartey explores the reality of Accra’s police department—and it’s not a pretty picture. The department is rife with corruption and nepotism. Dawson’s own sergeant, Chikata, obtained his job because his uncle is chief superintendent of police (“chief supol,” in the jargon of the place). But the problem isn’t limited to nepotism. Incompetence takes a toll, too. “More often than not, the receptionists did not take a message, verbal or written, nor did they pass it on.” And the facilities available to the department are limited at best:

** “Many of CID’s computers were old, burned-out fixtures.”

** The “new DNA center . . . was of limited capacity. Many of its samples still had to be sent out for analysis in South African labs and at the University of Southern California—a costly and time-consuming exercise.”

** And “the country’s reputed emergency numbers 1-9-1 and 1-9-2 could be so unreliable that it was sometimes more effective to call a radio station, which would then broadcast the emergency in the hope that the appropriate personnel were listening.”

A GLIMPSE AT AFRICA’S DIVERSITY
Americans in general know little about Africa. For starters, we’re often astonished to learn how big Africa really is. It’s nearly twice the size of Russia, which is far and away the largest nation on Earth. The continent’s population of 1.37 billion people is comparable in size to that of India and China. Fifty-four nations occupy this vast territory. Ghana, located on the west coast fronting the Bay of Guinea, is one of the continent’s smaller countries. But it is by no means small. It covers 92,000 square miles. Ghana is larger than the state of Minnesota, the 12th largest state in the USA. Nearly 31 million people live there. Accra’s population of 2.6 million isn’t large by American standards, and certainly not by Chinese or Indian, but it’s hardly a small town.

We Americans also underestimate Africa’s astounding diversity. In Ghana alone, the people speak some 80 languages. The government “sponsors” 13 of them—and these are not dialects but mutually unintelligible languages. French and English are also widely spoken.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kwei Quartey is a retired physician who turned to writing full-time after two decades practicing medicine in California. He specialized in urgent care and no doubt encountered street children here in his practice. Children of the Street is the second of the eight detective novels he has written to date. Five of the books constitute the Darko Dawson series, three in the more recent Emma Djan series. His books have won both critical attention and a growing audience. He is Ghanaian-American and, as he reveals in the acknowledgments, he spent considerable time in Ghana researching this novel. Dr. Quartey studied medicine at Howard University in Washington, DC.
Profile Image for dianne .
619 reviews98 followers
June 28, 2020
“When you are rich, you are resented; when you are poor, you are despised”
Ashanti proverb

i'm so happy to find another mystery series set in Africa. It’s possible that my relationship, my level of intimacy, with Alexander McCall Smith was becoming too dependent for good mental health. A detective set in another English speaking African country is nice, too, as Mma Ramotswe and Detective Kubu have Botswana well covered.

This was quite satisfying as a mystery - i didn’t ID the perp til very late in the story as the red herrings (one of which was a tad far-fetched) were effective. The story, based on the lives (and deaths) of street children in Accra, is very dramatic. Physical descriptions of the environment were so well done that one could actually be made nauseous by some of the more graphic word illustrations.

The fate of “throw- away” children is beyond terrible everywhere, and it is the shared crime of all adults that they exist at all. But in places where dire poverty is the baseline, the lowest rung sinks to unimaginable depths; the options for survival so narrow and risk-laden. The fact that thousands are living day to day with a child’s brain - with whatever remnants of magical thinking remain - against an environment poised to use and abuse, ignore and eliminate them, our smallest & weakest, is unconscionable.

But at least they have our lovingly flawed - just enough to be human, still very much a Good Guy - protagonist on their side. i have not read many books set in Ghana and appreciate the change. i also loved the bits about tradition (the chance to remember the tribal scarring in the north) and culture, especially the proverbs. When i travelled in Ghana, a couple years after the death of Nkrumah (i know, i’m old) the one thing i carried away, and on my back for months til it found its place in my library, is my book of Ghanaian (Ashanti, actually) proverbs. I loved it mostly because i didn’t “get” many, maybe most, of them. So their reappearance in this book was like meeting an old friend who i’d lost touch with.

For your philosophy (dear Horacio) some Ashanti proverbs:

You cannot kill an elephant with bullets of wax

Only when you have crossed the river, can you say the crocodile has a lump on his snout.

It is Mr. Old-Man-Monkey who marries Mrs. Old-Woman-Monkey.

A stranger dances - he does not sing

Even if the old woman has no teeth, her tiger nuts remain in her own bag

Every one hates the red ant on a kola nut because he cannot eat or sell it -

I will get it because I can, one says with a reason

If you come near the river, you will hear the crab cough

if you take your tongue to the pawnshop, you can't redeem it later -

One should never rub bottoms with a porcupine.

Profile Image for Naomi.
4,679 reviews138 followers
October 3, 2011
This book was fantastic on multiple fronts. First the storyline literally sucked me in from page 1. It is absolutely heart-breaking, simply because one knows that this type of violence happens daily, worldwide, against children living on the streets. Second, bottom line, it is just a well-written book. This is def. a new author who I will continue to seek out.
Profile Image for Chris.
1,350 reviews32 followers
September 22, 2011
My first read of this series and it's book two and I'm hooked for life. Darko Dawson is a cop who spends his own money trying to solve the case. He has a lovely wife and a weakness for weed that could be his undoing. He also has a young son with a hole in his heart who needs surgery soon. Plus he has his boss' nephew working for him. Good plot lines take you into Africa. Good vivid descriptions that show people persevering in the midst of poverty without generating sympathy or pity. Darko is a good person with good instincts and you want him desperately to succeed in finding who is killing some of the "worthless" street children in Ghana's capital, Accra. Definitely reading the first one and the third one set on oil rigs off Ghana's coast is coming out in 2012.
Profile Image for Lori.
1,164 reviews32 followers
March 7, 2018
Street children in Accra suffer death at the hands of a man leaving them in trashy places. The killer leaves behind other clues which Inspector Darko Dawson and others of the Accra police must decipher before the killer's apprehension. In the meantime, Darko's son Hosiah needs an expensive operation. Quartey's series locale provides an atmosphere unlike most other detective series. While vocabulary differs somewhat from American terminology, a glossary helps readers with some of the nuances of the dialect.
Profile Image for Jessie.
Author 6 books16 followers
September 23, 2011
Well. What can I say? This is one well-written book. From the beginning, I was drawn in to the subtleties of culture and social issues in Ghana, as well as the brilliant mystery plot. Author Kwei Quartey has outdone himself with this book - it's a treasure, one to be read and highly recommended.

With great insight, author Kwei Quartey brings the children of Accra's streets to life in his latest book, Children of the Street. If you're like me, you haven't read a lot of fiction about or from Ghana. I'm not sure whether it was from a lack of authors that have been translated, or that the literature isn't accessible to me, but I had no idea what I was missing. Kwei Quartey, a doctor and intercultural author that delves deeply into Ghanaian culture in his books, is the real deal. Children of the Street is Dr. Quartey's second mystery, featuring Detective Darko Dawson (Wife of the Gods being his first, and on order for me), and one that I highly recommend. It's an extraordinary book.



At once a glimpse into street culture in Accra and an intensely satisfying mystery, Children of the Street follows Detective Dawson into the poverty-stricken underbelly of the city. The characters are well-rounded, and the criminal events leave you hanging on the edge of your seat. You'll probably even read all night, as I did, unable to tear yourself away.


We interviewed Dr. Quartey, to find out more about Children of the Street - you can read the author interview here: http://www.wanderingeducators.com/bes...

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Kulwa.
58 reviews
December 9, 2021
A bit longer than his previous one, Wife of Gods, but its still an easy read with simple language even for non-fluent English readers.

It's still set in Ghana, with Protagonist same Detective Darko Dawson. The novel, just like previous one, it's also explore the social problem; this one is STREET CHILDREN. How they live, how they get money, how they are abused, how NGOs tries to assist them, how they are abused and social violence between themselves. But this one has gone far by exploring a dark social perception towards Street children. Inirially, Darko investigates the murders of one Street Children, Mussa whose body is dumped at lagoon. While still in investigation, two street children are murdered at different times. In his investigation, he met a number of people who are helpful to him. Example is one Dr of Psychology, who explores various psychological issues which may explain what's behind those killings. Dr. asserts that nature of murders and dumping of those children in dirty areas is a message a killer us sending that; those children are useless, dirty and has no human value-waste. He finally managed to find the killer, whose name was ..., who was an Housemaid to Dr. the finding of a killer, proves the hypothesis of Dr about the killer.

It's a very captivating novel and it explores socio-political and economic life of Ghana
Profile Image for Martina.
1,104 reviews
August 13, 2011
Kwei Quartey’s Children of the Street is the sequel to his terrific debut, Wife of the Gods, which introduced Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Ghana police in Accra. Our Mystery Book Group read the first book in November 2010, and it was very well received. I was eager to read the sequel and was certainly not disappointed. It became a case of despite everything I needed to do, I just sat in my chair and read instead. It was both a police procedural and a very intense psychological thriller. We learn more about Darko and his family, especially the health issues of his son Hosiah, more about Darko’s colleagues, and in this book, much about the poverty and plight of the Ghanaian street children. Add a serial killer who leaves a trail of bodies throughout the city and you have a fabulous exciting read. I already recommended this to the Mystery Group and will spread the word to our customers. It’s just a great read. I loved Darko Dawson! Received an e-galley from Net Galley.
Profile Image for Nakia.
371 reviews225 followers
April 5, 2016
My second in the inspector Darko Dawson series based in Accra, Ghana. Darko is a no nonsense detective within the Ghana Police Service trying to find a killer who is preying on “street children”, young people who travel to the capital to make a life away from their villages with no help or protection and end up living on the street. I enjoy this series mainly because Darko reminds me a teeny bit of Idris Elba’s "Luther" character (if he were to ever settle down). I also love that it gives a peek into Ghanaian life and culture.

Those who regularly read whodunits will likely not be satisfied with this one, but if you're a casual reader interested in a murder mystery series based in the motherland, you're surely enjoy this one.
Profile Image for Tina.
261 reviews47 followers
April 24, 2017
The Detective Darko books tackle serious criminal acts occurring in Accra, Ghana. This book (#2 in the series) focused on crimes against children. A difficult subject but not something society can ignore.
I enjoyed learning about the cultural aspects of Ghana. Despite the strengths, I still found the mystery easy to solve. Hence, a three-star rating.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,703 reviews208 followers
April 16, 2022
I read this book because I need to get to the third book in the series for this year's reading challenge. It was a decent mystery but not amazing. The ending was quite satisfying, however.

I don't usually like to read books in a series back to back, and maybe I read this one too soon after Wife of the Gods, because I found myself very impatient. It follows the same pattern: Dawson, supposedly brilliant but also on the outs with his superior (for reasons I never understood), investigates a case; the middle of the book is taken up with details about a social cause important to Quartey (in this case, homeless street children), and most of that had nothing to do with the mystery; several characters are shown to be very creepy and thus possible suspects, but they are red herrings; this time I was wise to Quartey’s red herrings and I focused on the actual killer, and I wondered why it took Dawson so long to get there; Dawson consults with others for help solving the case, but I don't see any evidence of his supposedly brilliant deductions. WotG had layers which kept it interesting: the current mystery, the old mystery of what happened to Dawson's mom, and the side story about his son and MIL. This book has only the current mystery to keep it afloat. His son and MIL are still present, but there is little forward movement on that story arc. Dawson's ability to SEE things (colors, lies, etc) doesn't come up at all. He can tell when someone is lying, but doesn't go into how he can tell. The alternate POVs from other characters were distracting and weakened the mystery, because it made it clear to us that certain suspects were not the perpetrator, well before Dawson figured it out.
453 reviews2 followers
June 12, 2019
I read to visit other times and places ...and Buy! does this book transport me!. The author's gritty, presumably accurate, rendering of the street childrens' life in Accra is troubling -- how can we allow such unevenness in wealth and opportunity persist? Or, more to the point, what can we do to help make things more humane and even?
I love Darko, the detective: he is completely sympathetic, even as I cannot begin to imagine doing his job ...*surviving* his job. I look forward to the next book.
Profile Image for Lane.
271 reviews5 followers
February 17, 2022
Really enjoy this series! It’s like traveling to Ghana. The author takes great care to infuse his stories with very specific details that add such immediacy and authenticity. I frequently pause and look them up online and I’ve learned a lot about the country and that part of Africa.

The mystery is a good one and all of the characters are well developed. It’s so nice to have the main detective be a loving family man. Such a welcome change from so many either detached or troubled DIs.

Keep these wonderful stories coming!
Profile Image for Alycia.
499 reviews7 followers
November 5, 2017
Another excellent Darko Dawson book. This one is really gruesome.
I love the bit in the beginning with the broken computer stamped with "School District of Philadelphia" and the mention of rich places discarding their trash to Ghana as "charitable donations". So true, but I bet that computer was trash when it got to the classroom in Philadelphia too.
Profile Image for Carolien.
764 reviews143 followers
May 23, 2021
Street children are being ritually murdered in Accra and Detective Darko Dawson must find the serial killer. This is not a high priority and he has his work cut out for him to find the resources to tackle the murders. Darko is one of my favourite detectives for his humanity in the face of crime and poverty. Highly recommend this series.
Profile Image for Nefty123.
341 reviews
May 23, 2017
I was initially not liking the flow of the story but I kept reading and I'm glad I did. I need to read more of Quartey's novels.
Profile Image for Erfiyah.
4 reviews1 follower
September 1, 2022
Kwei Quartey - children of the street review by Britney Tachie.

Summary
Children of the street canters on serial killings of street children in Accra Central and Inspector Dawson Darko is hell bent on unravelling this mystery although the health of his seven-year-old child bothers him and takes a great toll on him.
This creative piece of fiction begins with a call from Inspector Darko’s junior officer Chikata informing him of his presence being needed at the korle lagoon where the first body was found. The body was identified as Musa Zakari, a child of the street. He was missing all fingers on his left hand save his index finger, there was also a knife wound to his right, this stab wound becomes the official signature of the killer.
Investigations commence as soon as possible but before they could make headway, the body of the second victim is found with the same signature. Inspector Darko’s quest to unravel this mystery draws him close to the children of the street of Jamestown, Agbogbloshie, CMB, Railway station and its environs. It also brings people such as Genevieve Kusi, Dr. Botswe, Obi, Socrates, Mr. Biney and others his way.
All suspects on Mr. Darko comes up with are exonerated save Tedman who is jailed for raping a victim.
More facts unfold at the later part of the novel that leads to the killer who was finishing off with his fifth victim, the second female out of 5 killings.

THEMES.

1. Sexual abuse/rape

Rape is unlawful sexual activity against the will of the victim through the use of force or threats. In children of the street, rape is cited when Tedman together with Ofosu and Antwi take Comfort Mahama, a child of the street who is a head potter by day and a sex worker by night to a Vodafone kiosk around the Ghana Commercial Bank. At the scene, Tedman feeds more akpeteshie to comfort in order to drunken her so he can have his way with her. Tedman pulls up her skirt, rip off her underwear and has Antwi and Ofosu hold her legs apart so he can have his way with her. Comfort shrieks as he forces his way into her, he presses his hand over her face and mouth as he thrusts in and out of her. Her nose begins to bleed all over his hands as she struggles but that doesn’t stop him. He only stops after reaching climax and flees the scene just like Ofosu and Antwi did when the saw a vehicle approaching their direction.




2. Guilt.
Although the theme of guilt is inconspicuous in the novel, it exists. Inspector Darko feels a lot of guilt in connection to his dealings with Daramani. When Daramani is named suspect, his guilt starts to consume him because he is afraid that his deeds may be brought to light. Although the murder of Ebenezer is no fault of his, Issa feels guilty about not being there for him enough, he promises Dawson that he wouldn’t fail Antwi like he failed Ebenezer when Inspector Dawson asks him to watch over Antwi.

3. Streetism.
Streetism is a term used to describe children who live on the street due to lack of family ties or worse still manipulative relationships where their guardians use them to support household through various activities on the streets. According to the novel, there are over sixty thousand street children in Accra. Musa, Sly, Tedman, Akosua, comfort, flash, Antwi, Ofosu and all other children mentioned in the novel with the exception of Hoziah are all street children
Musa Zakari is a street child who migrated from the northern Region of Ghana to seek greener pastures in Accra. He has no family, no education and no skills. During the day, he worked as street vendor, luggage porter, shoeshine boy, truck pusher and scrap boy just like other male street children. At night, he sleeps at city pavements, store fronts and market places just like the other street children.
Akosua Prempeh in the novel is described as a child on the street but not of the street because she has a home to go to but has been threatened by her stepfather not to come home unless she could bring money. Akosua Prempeh and other female street children like comfort Mahama and Amariya work as head porters during the day and sex workers during the night.
Streetism is seen to have adverse effects on these children, the streets expose them to ills of society such as prostitution (in the case of Amariya, Akosua Prempeh and Comfort Mahama), substance abuse (Daramani), alcoholism, etc.
Some children on the street meet people who help them off the street just as Inspector Darko takes Sly in and SCOAR helps some street children by providing them with shelter, counseling and skills during the day. Others like Musa, Ofosu, Comfort, Akosua and Ebenezer are not so lucky it is on these streets that they meet their untimely deaths.


4. Social Responsibility.
The theme of social responsibility is explored in the novel. Inspector Darko Is sensitive and responsive to the plight of the street children. Despite that his son’s condition isn’t getting any better, it doesn’t slow him down he continues to go all out to ensure that the serial killer is apprehended. He is unable to stay away from the case even after he has been asked to step down from the case and allow sergeant Chikata to take over.
Non-governmental organizations like SCOAR and the catholic street child refuge are also sensitive as responsive to the plight of street children they provide refuge for the homeless street children during the day, they provide counselling and also equip these street children with skills.


LANGUAGE AND STYLE.

1. Device of Mystery
Children of the street is built around the serial killings of street children in Accra central. The gruesome murders are a mystery which inspector Darko seeks to unravel. How the body of Musa Zakari and all the other victims gets to the location where they’re found is a mystery. Why the killer takes trophy’s is also a mystery so is the reason behind his killing.
These mysteries are solved in chapter 52 after inspector Darko had finally been able to put the dots together and comes face to face with the killer.


2. Use of proverbs.
Ghanaian proverbs are used to a large extent in this fiction. Inspector Darko pays a visit to his brother’s Cairo’s shop in Osu, at the shop he introduces him to their rendition of fortune cookies which comes with a sheet of paper that has a Ghanaian proverb on it. The first he picks has sankofa which means it is not a taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot. He also comes across a book titled three thousand and six Ghanaian proverbs in Cairo’s book pile. He spots the same book in Dr. Bostwe’s study. Dr. Botswe quotes a proverb from the book “if you are on a road to nowhere find another road” Which he believes resonates with Inspector Darko’s current predicaments.
It later dawns on Inspector Darko that the killer uses these proverbs to convey a message on his victims.
For Musa Zakari he illustrates that we must count one before two by taking of all his fingers on his left hand save his index finger.
He gorges out comfort Mahama knees to tell that, the knee does not wear the hat when the head is available.
For Ofosu, he cuts off his tongue proverbially saying that no one spits on the ground and licks the spittle with his tongue.
When inspector Darko finally catchers the killer in action he is about to brand his last victim Akosua Prempeh with a symbol that proverbially says that we will all climb the ladder of death.
Whiles interrogating the killer, he reveals that he kills and leaves a mark of wisdom unlike other killers.


3. Use of local Language
Although the novel is written In English, Twi, a language spoken be the Akan people of Ghana which comprises of Ashanti’s, Bono’s, Fanti’s and others is used. A vast majority of the street children are not so literate, only a handful can speak English so Twi is the language inspector Darko communicates with them in. Inspector Darko also comes across a group of boys who are not fluent in neither Twi nor English but Hausa, a language spoken by Muslims and some groups of people in the northern part of Ghana.


4. Use of symbolism.
Symbols are also used to covey meanings of events in the novel. Symbols such as sankofa, the burner and the mutilation of the serial killers’ victims all symbolizes the use of Ghanaian Adinkra symbols.



Setting.
Children of the street is set in Accra, the capital city of Ghana but precisely in the environs of Jamestown, Korlebu, Tudu, Agbogbloshie, CMB, railway station, circle and Nima. Agbogbloshie, Accra most Notorious slum which has been nicknamed Sodom and Gomorrah is home to over 40,000 squatters in Accra. Most of the characters in the novel live in these areas. The time is in the early 2000’s.

Profile Image for BookishGlow.
164 reviews37 followers
February 20, 2012
Children of the Street is the thrilling, second installment of the Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery series by Kwei Quartey. Readers are ushered onto the bustling streets of Accra, the capital of Ghana, that consist of an array of orphaned children without shelter and supportive families. The poor children of the street endure great hardship in order to survive daily. By day, the city of Accra resembles a cultivated environment full of successful businesses, endless pedestrians, and impermeable traffic. By nightfall, amongst the dark shadows of the streets, a killer dwells, preying on the poverty-stricken youth within the slums of the city.

The first call came on a Sunday morning in June. Inspector Darko Dawson of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), known for his gallant persona and broad investigative experience, is summoned to the crime scene of a brutal murder involving a young victim. This first murder is initially viewed as a random senseless act of violence to the CID; however, more bodies are discovered within days with coinciding brutal traits. Inspector Darko Dawson begins an agonizing hunt for a serial killer targeting the street children of Accra. During his journey, he is met with the perilous realities of the poor youth and a persistently unsettling feeling that the killer may be more closely affiliated with the urban poor than he may have originally thought.

Having read the first installment of the mystery series, Wife of the Gods, I was familiar with author Kwei Quartey’s penetrating and vivid form of writing. His literary prose seems to effortlessly grasp the reader’s attention with the startling suspense in the novel, while providing different aspects of the Ghanaian culture and language, as well as addressing the perils of poverty. Children of the Street is a riveting novel, full of unrelenting thrill that is sure to captivate the reader until the very end.
Profile Image for Chengyi.
7 reviews
June 15, 2016
I am not a crime/mystery lover. I find the detective/psychopath killer storyline in this fiction interesting, though it is kind of predictable. The fiction is composed of three sections. The first two sections introduce the major characters involved in the murders, as well as set up the pattern of the serial killings, whereas the last section focuses on the detective's actions in order that the final truth--who is the serial killer--will be revealed.
While I am not really fascinated by the murder/investigation story per se, I am fascinated more by the "place" where the fiction is set--the slum of Accra, Ghana's capital city. Through the eyes of the protagonist detective, Darko Dawson, the readers are led into the notorious slum neighborhood of Accra as well as the author's social commentaries on issues of "street children," along with attended issues, including those of poverty, hunger, street violence, homelessness, child labor, child prostitution, and environmental degradation in the urban slum.
Through Detective Dawson's investigation, we are presented not only a local crisis, but
a broader problem existing in most
postcolonial cities in Africa where young children are forced to leave their village and family in the countryside and enter the city due to the imbalanced development between the country and the city in the postcolonial era.




639 reviews
August 14, 2011
2nd in the series featuring Darko Dawson, detective with the Ghana Police Service. This one is set entirely in the capital city (Accra) and deals with what turns out to be serial killing of street children. The setting is well-described and my heart ached for these teenagers who have almost no options and little hope. This series is often compared to the Ladies #1 Detective series because of its African setting, but it is far grittier.
Profile Image for Lisa.
839 reviews3 followers
June 4, 2016
Loved it! Quartey has built such rich, interesting characters! It's so interesting to learn about Ghana. The mystery was complex and kept me guessing to the end. I'm really looking forward to learning more about Darko and his family in the coming books!
Profile Image for Nancy H.
2,576 reviews
June 3, 2015
I really enjoy this mystery series. I know very little about the country of Ghana, and I like this opportunity to read about it. The mystery is good in these novels, and the characters are excellent.
Profile Image for Zenizole  Gqada.
69 reviews6 followers
May 12, 2020
Children of the street x Kwei Quartey

This is probably one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read. Heartbreaking but with a lot of lessons— we see that clearly when the proverbs come into play.

There’s this stereotype that children of the street are the cause of all the problems communities face. House break-ins, rape, stealing of car tires etc— and while some of the children do this, we fail to realize that not all of them are like that. We paint them all with the same brush.

We don’t take a minute to think about the circumstances they escaped from wherever they came from. Some come from abusive families, negligent parents and others are children who had everything — an education, a good family but their lives change when they lose one or both parents.

The death of Ofosu is one that affected me the most, and by this I don’t in any way attempt to suggest that the other deaths didn’t matter to me, on the contrary— they all mattered but like all things in life, certain things and people affect us differently than others.

Ofosu, the writer described as a sweet boy who genuinely loved to laugh. We all know a person like that, whose smile and laugh are so contagious, you want to alway see them smile. He and his good friend had expressed a desire to go back to school. To try and make something out of their lives but he was robbed of ever pursuing that.

It is not an easy thing to lose a friend so when Antwi went to identify his goods friend body at the morgue, my heart broke for him. Life as a child of the street is not easy. He had found a companion in Ofosu, and that just like his family was also taken away from him. It’s like these just children are just realty the wrong cards. I felt deeply sorry for both Antwi and Issa because they shared the same pain— I hoped they would find companionship in each other and continue to fight the struggles each day continued to present.

The book left me wanting, wanting to help. To do more. That must be the lesson Kwei had for us with this book, I imagine. To have us realize that before we paint everyone with the same brush like Socrate did, we ought to take a minute to think, listen and sympathize. All most of these kids really need is a good, warm home.

I imagine he wanted to teach us that money doesn’t always fix things. Even in the world of the poor and needy. Dashing the children with gifts and pleasantries for one night is not helping them at all. How about you use the money to find them shelter at night? Invest in their education? Too expensive? Ok, how about a pair of shoes and a blanket then? He exploited the children to further his own agenda and further put them in harms way.

I have the utmost respect for Dawson and his wife— I pray more people are like them. So warm and nurturing. Considerate but with a firm hand. My heart ached throughout the book, from when Musa— a young man just trying to earn an honest living, died right up until Comfort, a prostitute at the wrong time and place, died. If we are being honest, utterly honest with ourselves— how many of us actually care what happens to prostitutes out there? Even as sex work being legalized, we still don’t care much. We are driven by stereotypes set to ostracize people because of way the choose to live their lives.

When Srgt. Lartey made the comparison between the oil execs death and a death of a child found on the street, the reality of our way of live dawned on me. How selfish, self-centered, and self righteous we are as humans.

But when Christine and Dawson decided to help Sly. My heart felt a little better. Restored my hope in humanity but we no doubt still have a lot of work ahead of us.

Apart from my feeling about the characters in the book, there were a few things I really liked about the book itself.

1. When the story starts, Dawson’s eyes is caught by the book of proverbs at his brothers store— it’s an event that one easily dismisses right up until the end when it starts making sense. Everything in the book matters, however little.
2. The small informative sentence about the history of Ghana— The Ga people being the first people in Ghana and their love for Kenkey.
3. Sankofa— “ it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot” Classic proverb. Reflected in a few parts in the book: Philip and Dawson’s relationship started off rocky. Philip Chikata in the beginning thought because he was related to the sgt, he could rise to the top with nepotism. He was arrogant and lazy but he later realized that Dawson’s work ethic provides results and went back to seek a better relationship with him. We see towards the end as they start to form a friendship. Another part is when ever after Dawson has potentially ruined the connection with Dr Botswe, he was still not shy to go back, apologize and seek to repair the relationship. The proverb can be translated in many different ways, really.


Profile Image for Monique.
993 reviews60 followers
January 4, 2020
“Accra is a perfect place for murder. It is so dark and so quiet at night. Street people sleeping everywhere. Who knows they are there and who cares about them? Who will report anything? (Pg. 322)
Decided to start the year with an adult read for a change LOL..and this one I picked up awhile ago and had on my radar to read for a while..sigh my TBR list is astronomical but somehow I found this one left in a suitcase to read on a vacation and decided to get into it..so this is about the slums..the most dire conditions of life you can imagine and how people make it is so inspiring—however some people don’t and this story tells about the sad children who become victims to street life…
The book starts with the discovery of a dead body and the Ghana police struggling to make sense of it—all the police including the main character Inspector Dawson but the city itself is also a character as its so richly drawn that you can see, hear and feel all its horror and grime..
“It was carpeted with litter, much of it plastic bottles discarded without a second’s thought after the contained water had been drunk.” (Pg.4)
“Where do you live?”
“Here in Sodom and Gomorrah.”
It was the bitter, ironic nickname for Agbogbloshie, Accra’s most notorious slum. Drugs, prostitution, rape, forty thousand squatters, and practically every year a new but unsuccessful government plan to relocate them. (Pg. 9)
“Dawson and Sly walked the beaten path through mounds of trash containing the ubiquitous plastic bags and bottles, carcasses of old TVs, trashed scanners, mobile phones, air conditioners, refrigerators, fax machines, microwaves, dead computer monitors and defunct CPUs.” (Pg. 9)
Junked, unusable equipment that the rich countries passed off as charitable donations ended up right back here in Agbogbloshie (Pg. 10)
“It was a bizarre mixing of rural lifestyle with the suburban slum (Pg. 11)…….
“With no space for pedestrians on the pavement, vehicles and people shared the street in a constant battle for dominance.” (Pg. 63)
Detective Darko Dawson not only has this looming murder mystery to solve he also has to find a way to save his son who has congenital heart disease and he and his wife have no way to pay for the needed surgery…Combined with all these worries he also has to worry about his past as a weed smoker now that he is part of the police and it is highly illegal in Ghana. All this comes up when one of the main suspects is his old weed dealer and he has to confront his demons and relinquish control of the investigation due to his friendship with the dealer.. And then the bodies start adding up and four beautiful tragic street children are murdered with a whole host of suspects from a rich world-renowned expert on ritualized killings; a demented tech genius who hates kids and works to help aid street kids on the street; a secretive and scarred Phd. student and a few others though these are the ones focused on—actually its kind of hard to guess the murderer and this book was really well written with the character development though I felt the reveal and end was a little rushed and it took away a star for me as I loved reading it and obsessively finished for a lackluster finish and that’s sad..I will read more from him though this was entertaining..sigh miss the unfiltered adult reading life LOL…back to YA for recommendations to my darlings!
Author 5 books2 followers
May 2, 2014
Ich hatte mir eingebildet, ich hätte den ersten Teil dieser Serie, Trokosi, voriges Jahr gelesen. Dann dachte ich, das kann nicht sein, das habe ich ja noch als Taschenbuch, voriges Jahr habe ich schon ausschließlich eBooks gelesen. Also habe ich auf meiner Leseliste nachgesehen, und tatsächlich, ich habe das Buch bereits im August 2011 gelesen.

Krimi ist ja gar nicht mein Genre. Hin und wieder - ganz selten, höchsten ein Mal im Jahr - lese ich dann aber doch einen. Trokosi hat mich damals angesprochen, weil es in Afrika spielt, und ein Kriminalroman, der in Afrika spielt, muss doch etwas Besonderes sein. Korruption, so gut wie keine Forensik... Trokosi war auch durchaus etwas Besonderes, ich mochte den Roman total gerne, und habe mich wirklich auf den Nachfolger gefreut. Leider hat Accra mich enttäuscht, aber dazu später mehr.

Die beiden Romane - Accra und Trokosi - haben zwar den selben Ermittler, können aber unabhängig von einander gelesen werden. Man braucht für Accra kein Vorwissen, es hängt einfach lose zusammen. Zwei Fälle - ein Ermittler.

Was mich ein bisschen stört, ist der Preis. Trokosi habe ich als Taschenbuch um 8,99 € erworben. Das ist richtig günstig. Accra kostet als Taschenbuch 16,99 € - vielleicht ist es eine schöne Ausgabe mit Klappbroschur, keine Ahnung. Das eBook kostet 12,99 €. Und DAS ärgert mich. Der eBook-Preis orientiert sich an den 16,99, obwohl ich das Taschenbuch vom Vorgänger um 8,99 bekommen kann. Wo ist da bitte die Verhältnismäßigkeit? Wonach richtet sich der Preis? Der ist einfach irgendwie festgesetzt, total willkürlich. Das macht mich wahnsinnig. Wenn mir Accra genauso gut gefallen hätte wie Trokosi, hätt ichs zwar auch erwähnt, aber mich nicht weiter aufgeregt. Ich hab den Preis bezahlt, weil ich dachte, das Buch wäre es wert. Aber weil mir das Buch im Nachhinein eben keine 13 € wert war, ärgert mich das jetzt richtig.

Klappentext


"Sodom und Gomorra" - so nennen die Einwohner von Accra jenes Viertel der ghanaischen Hauptstadt, das nur die Menschen betreten, denen keine andere Wahl bleibt. Denn wer Sodom betritt, setzt sein Leben aufs Spiel: Der giftige schwarze Rauch von Ghanas größter Mülldeponie ist hier genauso allgegenwärtig wie Armut und Gewalt. Dass in dieser Umgebung ein Mord geschieht, ist für Inspector Darko Dawson daher wenig überraschend. Was den Polizisten allerdings entsetzt, sind die Umstände des Verbrechens: Das Opfer ist ein Straßenjunge - und ihm wurden sämtliche Finger abgeschnitten. Als wenig später ein weiterer Teenager ermordet und verstümmelt wird, ist sich Dawson sicher: Ein Ritualmörder macht Jagd auf Accras Straßenkinder, ein Killer, dessen Intelligenz nur von seiner Heimtücke übertroffen wird. Und das muss Dawson bald am eigenen Leib erfahren ...


Inhalt

Auf einer Mülldeponie im Armenviertel von Ghanas Hauptstadt Accra wird ein Straßenjunge tot aufgefunden. Niemand will mit der Polizei reden; die Leute haben einfach zu viel Angst vor den Polizisten. Der Polizist Dawson nimmt sich vor, den Mordfall aufzuklären, und findet nach mühsamen Recherchen schließlich die Freundin des Opfers. Aber bald wird ein weiterer Straßenjunge tot aufgefunden, wieder wurde er abgeladen wie Müll. Bald stellt sich heraus, dass ein Serienmörder sein Unwesen treibt, der es auf die Ärmsten der Armen abgesehen hat.

Seine Recherchen führen Dawson zu einem Projekt, das Straßenkindern helfen soll. Dort lernt er auch einige Kinder kennen. Erst verdächtigt er einen Rüpel, der von den anderen Kindern Schutzgeld erpresst, doch bald stellt sich heraus, dass der Täter ein Auto zur Verfügung haben muss.

Der letzte Satz des Klappentextes ("Und das muss Dawson bald am eigenen Leib erfahren ... ") ist reine Bauernfängerei. Es ist ein Krimi, kein Thriller. Der Ermittler ist nie in Gefahr. Das bezieht sich auf eine simple Morddrohung, die er mal bekommt, aus der aber keine Erfolgungsjagd resultiert oder Sonstiges. Lasst euch davon nicht in die Irre führen.

Das Bild von Accra, den Armenvierteln und den Straßenkindern ist sehr liebevoll und detailreich gezeichnet, ganz ohne falsche Romantik, richtig zum Anfassen. Das mochte ich schon an Trokosi. Beim Lesen hat man schon fast den Geruch von Abgasen, Müll und Scheiße in der Nase. Das meine ich durchaus positiv - es ist nämlich das Alleinstellungsmerkmal, das mich an den Romanen reizt, obwohl ich eigentlich keine Krimis mag.

Die Auflösung fand ich - im Gegensatz zu Trokosi - nicht so klasse. Sie war nicht komplett an den Haaren herbeigezogen, aber gut vorbereitet war sie auch nicht. Es war eher der verzweifelte Versuch, den Leser zu überraschen. Ein paar Verdächtige mehr, allgemein ein paar Figuren mehr, und der eine oder andere Twist, hätte dem Autor zwar bestimmt mehr Mühe gemacht, dem Leser aber auch mehr Vergnügen bereitet.

ACHTUNG: Es folgt ein klitzekleiner Spoiler in weißer Schrift. Markiert die Stelle einfach, wenn ihr sie lesen wollt.

Es hat sich alles auf zwei Verdächtige konzentriert, um dann jemanden, der nur eine klitzekleine Rolle am Rande hatte, als Mörder zu präsentieren.

Das fand ich wirklich schwach. Das Verhör am Ende, bei dem der Mörder seine Motive schön ausbreitet, um ihn als Täter glaubhaft zu machen, setzt dem ganzen die Krone auf. Das ist hanebüchern und lächerlich. Das Ende hat dem Buch nochmal einen Punkt gekostet.

Stil & Lesbarkeit

Es zieht sich wie Kaugummi. Den Stil kannte ich ja schon von Trokosi, und da fand ich, dass er einen gewissen Charme hatte. Da fand ich noch, der überladene Stil passt irgendwie zur Kulisse Afrika (obwohl er zu Indien wohl besser gepasst hätte *g*), aber da war das Buch auch so spannend, dass der Stil als Bremse gar nicht so aufgefallen ist.

Das Buch strotzt vor Adjektiven, Füllwörtern und ellenlangen Sätzen. Die Sätze sind gut verständlich, weil sie trotz der Länge schön gegliedert und nicht unnötig verschachtelt sind, trotzdem ist es einfach unglaublich ermüdend. Vor dem Schlafengehen ist das nicht zu empfehlen, da pennt man innerhalb von drei Seiten weg. Außer natürlich, man hat Probleme beim Einschlafen :D

Fazit

Ich bin kein Krimileser - meine Bewertung ist also nicht 100%ig fair. Jemand, der Krimis prinzipiell gerne mag, würde wahrscheinlich ganz anders werten. Zusätzlich mochte ich den Vorgänger - den ich immer noch uneingeschränkt empfehlen möchte - und hatte entsprechend hohe Erwartungen. Zu hohe Erwartungen, die leider enttäuscht wurden. Jemand, der den Vorgänger nicht kennt, würde wahrscheinlich auch anders bewerten. So viel Fairness, diese beiden Einschränkungen zu erwähnen, muss sein :)

Was den Stil angeht, kann ich euch nur empfehlen, die Leseprobe zu lesen und dann zu entscheiden, wie ihr damit klarkommt.

Es tut mir leid, weil ich den Vorgänger wirklich gerne mochte, aber in dem Fall kann ich nicht mehr als 3 von 5 Punkten vergeben. Das Buch war okay, aber auch nicht mehr. Schade.
Profile Image for Sophie Karlsson.
36 reviews
March 25, 2022
I aboslutely loved this book. It is a crime novel, where a detective tries to solve a string of violent murders, but the best thing about the novel, according to me, was the setting. To everyone who is familiar with big African cities, you know of the issues there are - poverty, inequalities, slums, dirt and corruption. This novel never hid from anything. It portrayed the life and struggles of living in Accra, whilst also depicting the strong sense of survival will and protection of your loved ones. The detective struggles to find funding to solve his cases, where the money instead goes to other crimes where more prominent people have been killed, but he never gives up. He loves his family to bits, but is stressed out by his sons condition because he can't pay the hospital bills. Through all this, more street children get killed, and his determination grows.

The novel is fairly short, only 332 pages, so I was afraid I'd guess who the killer was early on, but I was completely dumbfounded at the end. No, did not guess that, and yes, the ending is worth it.

I absolutely recommend this book. It might be that you as a reader can connect more to the story if you have experienced a similar setting in your real life, for example living in a poorer country, but even if you have not, the book is beautifully written and easily read.
Profile Image for Wendy.
794 reviews14 followers
April 23, 2020
Dario searches the slums for a child killer

I so needed the glossary of terms in the beginning of the book. As I am on my Kindle, I did not discover it until the end.
I must have read #1, but have no memory of it and forgot to add a review.
Children of the Street describes the abject poverty many Guanians have to suffer. The life conditions they accept as normal is a cesspool of filth and disease. Dario has to navigate through these horrid conditions to catch a foul murderer as terrible as the slums themselves. Along the way we find Diana's crime solving ability is hampered not only with the typical lack of funds but lack of any decent usable tech equipment or any other decent modern crime solving materials. Yet, Darko and his team deftly manuerver with the Haves and Have Nots to solve the crime.
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