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by Kwei Quartey
Soho Crime, August 2017
272 pages
ISBN: 1542333628

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Number five of the Darko Dawson investigations set in Ghana, the chief inspector finds himself as the lead investigator of the brutal murder of his wife's beloved cousin, Katherine. As if he does not have enough on his plate, his father suffers from dementia and needs to be moved to his brother Cairo's home where he will be safe. His adoptive son, Sly, a former street kid, is hanging out with some shady kids smoking wee (weed to us) and his mother-in-law is giving him a hard time for his atheism. And to top it all off, he has a malaria attack in the middle of his investigation.

There are six suspects, all of whom have lied to him and/or behaved suspiciously and they all have motives for murder. Katherine herself was already in trouble, unable to bear children, hated by her mother-in-law and her daughter who believe she is a witch who is killing the babies in the womb. Her husband has cheated her out of their house and abandoned her for her witchcraft.

Darko follows the leads where they are taking him, along with his new sidekick, Sago, whom he is training. He worries about her youth and her vulnerability. And she is the daughter of a police superintendent.

My favorite suspect for the crime is the charismatic Pentecostal preacher who smarms around throughout the novel and seems to be the type who nurses grudges. But then there is a crazy man who has been stalking Katherine, his brother who helped Katherine's husband edge Katherine out of the ownership of their house. Finally there is her lawyer, an old beau who has lied to Darko.

Darko has a kind of synesthesia he can sense when people are lying to him and all the suspects try out some lies on him.

A master of the art of misdirection, Quartey confuses us enough that we follow all the wrong paths, and then Darko sets up a trap and we find out to our surprise who dunnit. We also learn that Sago is a pretty tough young woman.

This is a delightful novel, rich in Ghanian culture, with a hero we really come to admire, and a plot that moves right along. And it also ends with a cliffhanger the second mystery in a week with a cliffhanger ending the latest fad in mystery writing?

I hope this means that there will be a sixth Darko Dawson novel. DEATH BY HIS GRACE was very enjoyable. I must read the first four while we wait for the sixth.

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, August 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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