The Missing American is an intriguing Private Investigative novel by Kwei Quartey. It was initially released in January of 2020 and is book number one in the Emma Djan Investigation series.
Let me start by saying that Kwei Quartey has an author bio almost as fascinating as this book. While he is now quite an accomplished author he was a surgeon prior to retirement.
Mr. Quartey did not allow the discipline required to become a surgeon (arguably an overachievement even within the medical profession) to go to waste as he embarked on his second career. To date he has had 11 works published- not including a follow up novel for the Emma Djan which is already in the works.
Who is Emma Djan?
The Missing American was the first book that I read by this author. The beginning of the novel is gripping and offered a little taste of gore within the imagery.
While the introduction offered a vivid depiction of some of the worst in life, the main charcter, Emma Djan appears and is immediately endearing. I immediately got a sense that she has a strong moral character and that “not all heroes wear capes” quote could easily be used to describe her.
Emma is not an amateur sleuth but she would most likely be described as a rookie Private Eye. From the beginning we know she really has a heart of gold. The type of person who truly should be in law enforcement because of her honesty and genuine desire to ensure justice. She attends church, volunteers to help with autistic children in her spare time and she very much values her chastity.
That does not mean that everyone she encounters is operating on the same moral compass.
The Plot Thickens…
As an American I can say I felt comfortably transported to a country I have never set foot in. Part of that is due to the excellent manner in which Quartey is able to convey the feel of Ghana. It was as if I was there with the sights and smells and at some point my mouth began to water from the description of foods that I would not recognize if they were all on a menu in front of me.
The other way in which I was comfortable with this was due to the political misdeeds that were very much interconnected. It reminded me of some of the headlines I see on the local and national news everyday. Apparently crooked politicians can be found across any sea.
Speaking of crossing seas, the cast of characters spans International waters. The actual Missing American is a man by the name of Gordon Tillson. Gordon’s son, Dexter, engages the private investigation firm that Emma Djan works for in order to find his father who went missing after pursing a young Ghanaian woman who he met on Facebook.
Gordon was very confident when he set out for Ghana because he had met his wife there many years before while working for the Peace Corps. But as he lands he finds that the land he remembers is no longer what it once was. I loved seeing the “new Ghana” through his eyes.
While we adjust to Gordon being out of his element we are also introduced to some truly nefarious world of organized crime centered upon witchcraft and internet scams. Through the eyes of Emma we see how a white outsider veered off track into waters that are not only murky but, quite frankly, precarious to navigate even for a native.
We also learn much about Emma’s private life which allows us to see how she ends up working for an investigation firm. Her stepbrother was introduced and I absolutely adored his character. Learning that he was not exactly what he seemed to be was a reflection on how stereotypes in society can color the way in which we see one another.
I was beginning my natural hair journey while reading this book- thank you Coronavirus for forcing me to embrace my hair. While learning to twist my hair I decided to purchase the Audible version using some of the credits I have been hoarding.
It was not until I switched back to the hardback that I realized what a pleasure the audiobook was. Honestly, truly, had I not started with the audio version I would have been super confident of my ability to pronounce many of the Ghanaian words. Joke was on me because apparently I was butchering the beautiful language.
It made me love the audiobook that much more and I leaned heavily upon it because I loved how much more immersive the novel was when I was not fumbling over words in my head. Although I will add that the physical copy offers a glossary which I enjoyed.
Anticipating Book 2- January 12, 2021
Have you ever seen a more beautiful cover? A more stunning color combination? The cover is totally giving me Lupita Nyong’o teas. Can whoever did her makeup do mine?
Sleep Well, My Lady is slated for release on January 12, 2021. I will be the first in line to grab a hardback copy… along with the audiobook version. Lesson learned- if you can’t pronounce it, let it be beautiful and listen to someone else pronounce it for you.