Emma Djan

Created by Kwei Quartey

Best known for his acclaimed series featuring Detective Inspector Darko Dawson of the police in Accra, Ghana, author Kwei Quartey lit out for new territory in the Edgar-nominated, Shamus-winning The Missing American (2020), when he introduced former police officer turned private investigator EMMA DJAN.

Ex-cops turned private eyes (especially disgraced ones) are, of course, a dime a dozen in the genre, but young Emma’s dismissal from the Ghana Police Service in Accra didn’t involve corruption or dereliction of duty–at least on her part. The ambitious rookie cop had barely been on the force for more than a few months when, during a job interview to try to get into Homicide, she was assaulted by a superior.

Cut adrift, with her big plans to become a Homicide detective (just like dear old dad) having gone up in smoke, she goes to work for the tight-knit Sowah Private Investigators Agency in Accra, run by Yemo Sowah, the “Old Man” (all detective agencies beyond a certain size seem to be run by the “Old Man).

Emma’s the only woman in the small agency, but she more than carries her weight, with a definite knack for undercover work. She’s smart and intuitive and quietly competent and infinitely polite, although she chafes when teased by her male co-workers for her “woman’s perspective” when they gather together to discuss cases.

They’re billed as “Emma Djan Investigations,” but the real pleasure here is watching the whole team work a case–slowly, politely, methodically and as the circle of suspects narrows, almost inevitably. It’s something we rarely see, and something I really enjoy–honest to goodness private eye procedurals.

I mean, really–when was the last time you read one of those?


Quartey, born in Ghana and raised by a black American mother and a Ghanaian father, is a practicing physician and novelist, currently living in Pasadena, California.




  • July 28, 2021
    THE BOTTOM LINE: Rookie PI Emma and the rest of the Sowah Private Investigators Agency in Accra, Ghana are a breath of fresh air—in a series of honest to goodness PI procedurals!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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