This second in the "Darko Dawson" series (following Wife of the Gods) finds the Ghanaian Detective Inspector roaming the capital city of Accra in search of the serial killer stalking the city's vast population of homeless children and teens. As best one can tell from the available statistics, about 1 in every 100 resident of Accra is a homeless street child, hustling for day-labor work and literally sleeping in the streets. This makes them easy prey for every kind of predator imaginable, especially a serial killer. Now, I'm not really a fan of crime fiction or films that feature serial killers -- when there's so much "regular" evil in the world it often feels like lazy and sensationalistic storytelling when an author unveils a serial killer within a plot. However, in this book, it works quite well and feels organic to the story and setting.
In the first book, the writing was a bit clunky and flat, and while the prose is still far from stylish, it does feel much more polished and readable. Darko remains an engaging protagonist, both clever and somewhat headstrong, with his own emotional turmoil and weaknesses to humanize him. However, that also makes the supporting characters feel kind of flat on the page, with less depth and richness to them. Hopefully future books will see some richer development of some of the rest of the cast, such as Darko's wife and brother. Still, on the whole, the book manages to walk that fine line of presenting a social issue and being an engaging page-turner. The problem of homeless children getting swallowed by big cities is a ticking demographic time bomb that reflects very poorly on humanity, and is hardly limited to Africa. Kudos to the author for taking on this social ill as the basis for a genre plot and casting a greater light on the issue.