Death By His Grace
Katherine and Solomon’s extravagant high society wedding in Accra, Ghana, was a triumph. But when she is unable to conceive, her new husband and his family turn against her and accuse her of witchcraft. Katherine desperately seeks help from her family, friends, and pastor to resolve her marital issues. Her brutal murder draws CI Darko Dawson of the Ghanaian federal police into the case since Katherine was a cousin to his wife, Christine. As he investigates, Dawson also wrestles with how best to care for his aging and ailing father. He successfully lays a trap to catch the killer, but that comes with potentially fatal consequences. The fifth Darko Dawson book (after Gold of Our Fathers) explores the role of religion, both traditional Ghanaian and evangelical Christian, in a vividly depicted African setting. Series fans may be stunned by the suddenness of the unexpected cliff-hanger ending, but it mirrors the rapidity of real life. VERDICT A good choice for readers who enjoy Michael Stanley’s “Detective Kubu” series.
If his fourth case (Gold of Our Fathers, 2016) took him far from his base in Accra, Chief Inspector Darko Dawson’s fifth strikes entirely too close to home.A year after accountant Katherine Yeboah’s storybook marriage to rising attorney Solomon Vanderpuye, the magic is gone with a vengeance. Katherine’s inability to get pregnant despite her bridegroom’s undisputed virility has turned her husband’s class-conscious mother, Maude, and his equally sniffy sister, Georgina against her. Months of counseling sessions with Clem Howard-Mills, the millionaire bishop who married the unhappy couple, have gone nowhere, and Solomon, echoing his mother’s accusations that Kate is a witch, demands that she leave the house he’s surreptitiously retitled in his name alone. James Bentsi-Enchill, the divorce lawyer Kate’s mother urges her to consult, is an old flame of Kate’s who’s divorced himself. Can things can get any worse? Absolutely. The night before Kate’s due to move out, she’s savagely attacked by a killer who also murders houseman Gabriel Saleh for good measure. The events leading up to the massacre are described with such harrowing precision that Darko’s investigation would be utterly overshadowed if he weren’t Kate’s brother-in-law, a sorely vexed cop whose every question seems to invite another prevarication or false alibi and whose every move threatens to antagonize another member of his extended family—except of course for his father, Jacob, who’s too sadly demented to notice or care what’s going on. The only bright spot, it seems, is Lance Cpl. Mabel Kusi, the new transfer Darko’s breaking in, who’ll take center stage at the finale. The most conventional of the Ghanaian Chief Inspector’s five mysteries but the most personally shocking in every imaginable way for the hard-pressed hero.
When fertility problems strain newlywed Katherine and Solomon Vanderpuye’s marriage, Katherine begins counseling with her celebrity evangelist minister. While she works on reconciliation, her in-laws are poisoning Solomon’s mind with accusations that she’s a witch intent on killing him and their unborn children. Their tactics succeed, and Kate is soon packing her things. But the night before her move, she is murdered at her home in Accra, Ghana. Accra’s CID Director Darko Dawson is called to the scene by his distraught wife, who found Kate’s house crawling with police when she arrived to help her cousin move. The last thing Darko wants is a case certain to strain family relations, but his commanding officer sees things differently. Darko and a trainee detective, one of Accra’s few female officers, must sort through a host of potential suspects—the charismatic evangelist, Kate’s prominent in-laws, and a disturbed stalker—to find the machete-wielding killer. In the series’ fifth installment (following Gold of Our Fathers, 2016), Darko is tested by his duty to his in-laws and increasingly challenging roles as son and father, complications that add layers to a skillfully developed character and build suspense toward a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger. Quartey’s Ghanaian mysteries, driven by tension between traditional culture and modernity, share top-notch writing and full-sensory settings with those of Michael Stanley, Deon Meyer, and Parker Bilal.
— Christine Tran, Booklist starred review
I have grown to love the Darko Dawson’s murder series ever since I picked up Murder at Cape Three Points a year ago by a mere stroke of luck in New York Public Library. I have been hooked since then.
Imagine my excitement when Kwei Quartey shared on his Facebook page that he was looking for fans to read the advanced copy of his new book and give their honest reviews. A lot of people commented under the post before I did. So, to beat the competition, I shared a link to my reviews of all his books and told him how much I would love to read his new book. Of course, I was among those he chose to read the book. And boy was I happy when I saw this book sitting beautifully in my mailbox. I received it last month but with my wedding planning and all I didn’t get a chance to open it until last Friday and I finished it on Tuesday.
Death by His Grace is set in Ghana just like the previous books. It’s about Katherine Vanderpuye, a beautiful married woman who sadly, can’t have a child. In any modern society, this will just be a bump in the road that the woman and her husband will jump through together. But in the African society, some people see this as a curse and always blame the woman even in cases when the man is at fault. Although, in this case, the problem is with Katherine. Unfortunately for her, she has a mother- and sister-in-law who don’t like her very much, and a husband who is easily manipulated by his mother. They accuse Katherine of being a witch who kills her babies while in the womb.
It’s apparently a cause for divorce and also a crime punishable by death to be infertile in Ghana because Katherine is not only harassed and tormented for not giving birth, she is brutally murdered on her last night in her marital home. Hotshot detective, Darko Dawson is called in to solve her murder. This case is very personal for Darko because Katherine is his wife’s cousin. Initially, Darko didn’t want to take the case due to fear of being biased but his family and boss encouraged him to.
Darko reluctantly leads the investigation and recruits the help of a new female detective to help him solve the case. The investigation reveals secrets, affairs, and many possible suspects which include Katherine’s bishop and church staff, her husband, old flame, and a paranoid stalker. Who killed Katherine and why? I had my guesses and narrowed it down to one but the culprit ended up not even being one of the people I suspected. Even Darko didn’t see it coming.
This book got me hooked from beginning to end. I give it 5 stars! I found it very hard to put down. It truly captured the Ghanaian daily living, struggles, high society and religious scene which amazingly, are similar to Nigeria, my birth country. This book is not long, I easily read half of the book my first day of opening it. I do love the fact that I wasn’t able to predict the murderer and boy oh boy, the ending definitely caught me off guard. It’s a true cliffhanger. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a new book the way I’m looking forward to reading the next book in this series.
—Linda’s Book Reviews
Murder hits uncomfortably close to home in Kwei Quartey’s Death by His Grace (Soho), when Chief Inspector Darko Dawson’s wife’s cousin is killed. The detective deals with heightened familial tensions — not to mention the deterioration of his aging father, the wayward ways of his adopted son, and a bout of malaria — all while working to ferret out a dangerous killer. There’s plenty of delicious Ghanaian food mentions to salivate over and a friendly overview of Accra’s plentiful neighborhoods, but Quartey covers the bad as well as the good: an inherent part of the plot here includes the workings — and cons — of a charismatic church and its self-enriching leader.
—Seattle Times Review of Books
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, reviewingtheevidence.com
Darko Dawson has a head start over other homicide investigators. Darko is the Chief Inspector of the Ghanaian Federal Police in Kwei Quartey’s vastly engaging series and it happens that, along with his conventional forensic gifts, Darko can detect when a witness is lying to him by a fine vibration that goes off in his own left palm.
This brand of synesthesia comes in handy in solving the particularly vicious murder of a beautiful Accra housewife, a tricky case in which a half dozen legitimate suspects emerge from Darko’s sleuthing. Apart from the thrill of the detecting, Death By His Grace offers an education in Ghana’s history, social life, eating habits and other customs peculiar to that endlessly intriguing country.