At Cape Three Points on the beautiful Ghanaian coast, a canoe washes up at an oil rig site. The two bodies in the canoe - who turn out to be a prominent, wealthy, middle-aged married couple - have obviously been murdered; the way Mr. Smith-Aidoo has been gruesomely decapitated suggests the killer was trying to send a specific message - but what, and to whom, is a mystery.
The Smith-Aidoos, pillars in their community, are mourned by everyone, but especially by their niece Sapphire, a successful pediatric surgeon in Ghana's capital, Accra. She is not happy that months have passed since the murder and the rural police have made no headway.
When the Ghanaian federal police finally agree to get involved, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the Accra police force is sent out to Cape Three Points to investigate. Pretty as the coast is, he is not happy to be sent away from his wife and two sons, the younger of whom is recovering from a heart operation. And the more he learns about the case, the more convoluted and dangerous it becomes. Three Points has long been inhabited by tribal villages of subsistence fishers, but real estate entrepreneurs and wealthy oil companies have been trying to bribe the tribes to move out. Dawson roots out a host of motives for murder, ranging from personal vendettas to corporate conspiracies.
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Murderous Geography Lesson
What a pleasant surprise, it was my first Kwei Quartey and I loved it.
Kwei Quartey shows his deep love and concern for todays Ghana, but his view is not obfuscated by romanticism, he paints a very realistic picture of the problems the country encounters on its way to a more modern society.
Dominic Hoffman does a decent enough job in narrating the story, but his intonation of the different local or international dialects is not always convincing. I especially missed the melodious touch, Ghanaian people can give to the English language.
The story itself is quite complex. A cruel murder of a high ranking oil executive and his spouse has been committed and the mutilation of one of the bodies might indicate some dark rites or even a human sacrifice. After the local police does not make any progress in solving the mystery, inspector Dawson is sent to from Accra to Takoradi to take over the investigation. The investigation confronts Dawson with deeply rooted hatred between family clans, superstition and witchcraft and corruption at the highest level. The conflict between the rapidly developing oil industry and the local fishermen and environmentalist makes the murder mystery even more difficult to unravel.
The story rings true and seems to reflect the current situation in Ghana very accurately. There are some minor details, especially towards the end, where the story appears to be constructed and some events take a less than realistic turn, but all of that does not really do any harm to the overall positive impression.
A great book for arm chair travelers to learn more about Ghana, but also for people, who know Ghana, because it takes them back to a place, they love and cherish.