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LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ--Jacket reveal

Updated: Jan 5, 2022

Presenting the jacket design for the next Emma Djan Investigation, LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ, to be released in approximately a year. Originally, it was slated for June 2022 pub date, but another year of Covid severely delayed my trip to West Africa for research. The bad timing simply made it unworkable to have the novel ready for the hoped-for date. The publishing schedule works rather like an airport. Every plane has a time slot to push back from the terminal. If the airline misses the slot due to a delay, it must be scheduled for the next available time, and it can’t bump other planes from their spot. All Soho Press 2022 releases are already scheduled, so unfortunately LSIL had to be pushed back to February 2023. I know it’s painful, but I hope to make it worth the wait.

Research for LSIL took place over two months in West Africa, involving Nigeria, Niger, Libya, and Ghana. The novel takes place in these four different countries, making the plot and sub-plots somewhat complex. For the first time, Emma will travel outside of Ghana to Nigeria, a brand new experience for her (including flying, of which she’s terrified). She will visit Benin City, an ancient city with history that goes back centuries. Just one example is the Holy Aruosa Church, founded 1506.

Ancient Holy  Aruosa Church (Image: Kwei Quartey) in Benin City, Nigeria
Holy Aruosa Church (Image: Kwei Quartey)

Benin City’s roundabout, called Ring Road or King’s Square, is one of the largest in Africa, and maybe one of the craziest I’ve experienced. Its perimeter is dotted with monuments and statues. In essence, Benin City constantly reminds you of its ancient legacy.

Benin City’s famous Ring Road (Image: Shutterstock / Jerry Chidi)

But like many cities that are impressive on the service (e.g. Florence, Italy), Benin City has a hidden, dark side. It's arguably Nigeria's ground zero for human and sex trafficking.

NAPTIP sign in Benin City (Image: Kwei Quartey)
NAPTIP sign, Benin City (Image: Kwei Quartey)

In LSIL, Ngozi, the daughter of the Nigerian ambassador Ojukwu, elopes with her ex-convict boyfriend, Femi. After someone spots her in a large suburb of Accra called Lapaz, Ojukwu appeals to Emma and her colleagues at the Sowah PI Agency to find her. Femi’s subsequent and surprising murder raises a crucial question: what’s the connection, if any, between Ngozi’s disappearance and Femi’s death?

As Emma investigates, she comes face to face with the brutality of sex work and sex trafficking, both locally and internationally. This is a tough case. It’s fair to say that this new adventure has been a challenge for both Emma and me!

Meanwhile, Mom has come to stay with Emma for a while (uh-oh), and Emma takes a new step in her relationship with Courage, her boyfriend.

Here’s hoping for a good 2022 that will have us nicely set for the release of LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ early in 2023.

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