DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Time for Crime In The City - our profiles of crime novelists, people who make murder their business. In our final installment this summer, we go to West Africa. Ghana is the setting for author Kwei Quartey's who-done-its. The Ghanaian-American author has written three books featuring Detective Inspector Darko Dawson. When Quartey and NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton met up, they focused on the second in the series, with Ghana's bustling capital as the backdrop.
KWEI QUARTEY: I'm Kwei Quartey, author of "Children Of The Street." And we are at Agbogbloshie, which is a notoriously known slum in Accra, Ghana's capital.
OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: And it's in this teeming shantytown of Accra that the first murder victim in Kwei Quartey's second mystery novel, "Children Of The Street," is found - on a bank, bang in the middle of the putrid, stinking, dark waters of the Agbogbloshie canal.
QUARTEY: From a crime fiction writer's standpoint, I do have a leaning towards particularly sad or poignant areas for a place to die. Besides the awful fate that you have come to as you've been either butchered to death or shot or what have you, that you should die in a place that is so filthy, it's almost as though you've been further humiliated.
QUIST-ARCTON: Doggedly determined, Detective Inspector Darko Dawson takes charge of the investigation that turns out to be serial killings of street children. Dawson is a loving family man who also loves his poorly paid job. He passionately wants to solve murders, especially when they involve society's castoffs.
QUARTEY: One of the most famous and significant things that he said to his boss who had dismissed the murder of a prostitute, he said, well, you know, a bank executive or a prostitute - dead is dead, sir. And he sometimes runs up against opposition from his senior - senior staff who wonder why he cares so much about a murdered person who certainly was not important to society.
QUIST-ARCTON: For example, street boys.
QUARTEY: Right, street boys who were being murdered one after the other in "Children Of The Street."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Reading) A day shy of his 17th birthday, Musa was a boy with the survival instincts over a grown man. Blood sprang from the stab wound in his back, but he did not die instantly. As his blood drained, Musa had a running vision, like a video of his short life.
QUIST-ARCTON: The book begins with this brief encounter with the character Musa, who hails from impoverished dry, dusty northern Ghana. He moves South to the lush, green capital city in search of work to send money home to his mother. But after pushing open-top carts around the streets ferrying heaving loads, Musa's is the first murder in "Children Of The Street." The prologue tells us.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.