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Wednesday 28 July 2021

‘Accra Noir’ edited by Nana Ama Danquah

Published by Akashic Books,
2 February 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-913175-21-4 (PB)

‘Consider the context, beward of a pretext, search for a subtext’, warns editor Nana Ama Danquah in her introduction. Stories in Ghana are called Anansesem, after the half-human, half-spider trickster folk hero, and this is a collection of the trickiest stories around, with clever, unrelaible characters in a ruthless world of corruption, double-dealing and the struggle to make ends meet. The mood is definitely the blackest of noir, with no holds barred.

It’s divided into four sections. ‘One day for Master’ allows the underdog a turn at ruling. Chop Money by Nana Ekua Ben-Hammond stars quick-witted kaya girls with a body to dispose of; Shape Shifters by Adjoa Twum has cross and double cross in the criminal underworld. Moon over Aburi by Kwame Dawes is a story in dialogue, where what seems to be a casual chat between a customer and a stall holder goes far deeper. Fantasia in Fans and Flat Screens by Kofi Blankson Ocansey begins with a woman overhearing a murder.

The second section is ‘Heaven Gate, no bribe’ and this three stories are classic twist-in the tale. In The Labadi Sunshine Bar by Billie McTernan a confident young prostitute sets out for a better life; The Driver by Ernest Kwame Nkrumah Addo has a happily-married wife learning more about her husband, and The Situation by Patrick Smith features a lawyer and a banker, scoundrels both.

‘All die be die’, section three, has three classic murder stories: a girl’s revenge on a straying lover (Intentional Consequences by Anne Sackie), an assassination with a twist (Tabilo Wuofo by Gbontwi Anyetei), and a loving husband whose wife is having an affair ... or is she? (When a Man loves a Woman by Nana Ama Danquah).

The final section, ‘Sea Never Dry’, shows the way murder can stretch into the wider community. It opened with Kweku’s House by Ayesha Harruna Attah, in a clever spin on the old dying-patriarch / inheritance tale. The Boy who wasn’t there by Eibhlin Ni Chleirigh was a heartbreaking tale of innocence abused, and a community dilemma, and Instant Justice, by Anna Bossman, began with a crowd killing of a thief.

All the City Noir series showcase the world of the authors, and every volume I’ve read has been excellent. Accra Noir maintained that tradition. Every story was good, and many were outstanding. I was plunged instantly into a completely different world of larger-than-life characters and atmospherically-described places. Highly recommended for lovers of modern and macabre.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Nana-Ama Danquah was born in Accra, Ghana, and raised in the United States. She is the author of the memoir Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman's Journey Through Depression, and the editor of three anthologies: Becoming American, Shaking the Tree, and The Black Body. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have been widely anthologized, and she has written for numerous magazines, journals, and newspapers, including Essence, Allure, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. During her tenure as an international speechwriter for the president of Ghana, the addresses she penned were delivered at the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union, the Palace of Westminster, the University of Oxford, and Harvard University. She has taught at Otis College of Arts and Sciences, Antioch University, Los Angeles, and the University of Ghana, Legon. She splits her time between Accra and Los Angeles, and has one daughter, the actress and writer Korama Danquah.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
Death From a Sheland Cliff

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