Nothing against Alexander McCall Smith, but I think it’s a bit “apples and oranges.”
Though Wife of the Gods contains all the markings of a standard mystery—the detective at odds with authority and who has a hard time containing his emotions, reacting before taking time to rationally think, which lands him in hot water both professionally and personally—the world of traditional Africa with its old ways, patriarchal social order, and superstitions coexisting with, fighting with and pushing against modern modes of thought and beliefs, sexual fairness (if not equality), and science makes this work so much more than a mystery novel.
For Americans who are used to convenience, speed, and modernity, it’s intriguing to read about the forced coexistence of old and new—the still-difficult path a small, third world area has adapting to Western influences (like cell phones) that may feel as though they’re arriving too quickly and feel out of place in a town of dirt streets and mud brick homes. Some people adjust, while others cling to the old ways. But the world is not static. Detective Darko Dawson finds that out perhaps more than he would wish.
Well-written and a fast read. Descriptive and informative about a world that’s vastly different and far away, which (if I can’t travel to experience the place myself) “fills the well” nicely indeed.
Dr. Kwei Quartey lives in Pasadena. He writes early in the morning before setting out to work for HealthCare Partners where he runs a wound care clinic. (KweiQuartey.com)