Wednesday, February 15, 2023


 LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ hit shelves on Feb 7, 2023. Originally, it was slated for June 2022 pub date, but another year of Covid severely delayed my trip to West Africa for research.

In LSIL, Ngozi, the daughter of the Nigerian ambassador Ojukwu, runs awaywith her formerly imprisoned convict boyfriend, Femi. After someone spots her in a large suburb of Accra called Lapaz, Ojukwu appeals to Emma and her colleagues at the Sowah PI Agency to find her. Femi’s subsequent and surprising murder raises a crucial question: what’s the connection, if any, between Ngozi’s disappearance and Femi’s death? 

Research for LSIL was very wide-ranging and involved some challenges. The novel takes place in these five different countries, in West Africa, involving Nigeria, Niger, Libya, and Ghana, making the plot and sub-plots somewhat complex. For the first time, Emma will travel outside of Ghana to Nigeria, a brand new experience for her (including flying, of which she’s terrified). She will visit Benin City, an ancient city with history that goes back centuries and which is known for brass and bronze sculptures.

Rather than boring you with long descriptions, here are a few annotated, highlight photos for your viewing pleasure.

           16th-century, well-preserved Arusha church,
           Benin City, Nigeria

        How do you fit three grown boys on one motorbike?
        Be African. In Africa, nothing is impossible.

With tour guide brothers Evans and Confidence 
in front of the National Museum of Benin City, Nigeria

       Benin City bronze sculpture, some of which were
       looted by the British and Germans. 

       At the Obasanjo Library. Obasanjo 
       is an ex-president of Nigeria and one
          of the richest men in Africa.

  With Evans, Confidence, and Edjin I, a true royal

But like many cities that are impressive on the service (e.g. Florence, Italy), Benin City has a hidden, dark side. It's arguably Nigeria's ground zero for human and sex trafficking. As Emma investigates, she comes face to face with the brutality of sex work and sex trafficking, both locally and internationally. This is a tough case.

Now, on to Niger. Emma did not go to this country, but it has prominent scenes in the novel. The French government and the US Department of State state that one should not visit Niger unless absolutely necessary because of armed robberies, sectarian fighting, kidnappings, etc. This is an unfair and broad-brush characterization of Niger. Although there are skirmishes with extremists on the borders with Mali and Nigeria, it’s not as if the entire country is engulfed in war. There’s no one on the street with guns, so in that sense, it’s safer than in the US where I could get shot anywhere at all. It’s hypocritical for western countries to lecture developing countries.

Alhassane Ibrahim, my tour guide in Agadez

Hotel Auberge d’Azel--many buildings are constructed
from natural sand and stone, so the scenery can seem 
a bit monochromatic                           
Making friends at the Agadez livestock market--
sheep, cows, camels, donkeys

At the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, Ibrahim prepares
my cot for a very warm night under the stars. I love this pic
for the Pink Panther blanket alone

Ghana was more familiar territory. Here I have two PI friends who guide me to the places featured in the novel. For example, the infamous Alligator “rest-house,” really a brothel

      The infamous Alligator Hotel (brothel),
featured in LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ

                                        Lapaz, all-night trade including the sex trade

East Legon, an exclusive suburb of Accra where
far less than the 1% live, houses going for up to $1M. 
Major location in LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ

At the Legon (Accra) Botanical Gardens, a childhood 
haunt of mine, but the site has changed so much
I couldn’t recognize any landmarks



  1. I've been lucky enough to read a copy of Last Seen in Lapaz. It's terrific!

    1. Thank you, Michael, I’m grateful for your support.

  2. Love this post and all the photos, Kwei, cannot wait to read. And I completely agree about the irony of the US judging any other country on violence, or so many other things.

  3. Congratulations, Kwei! I can't wait to get my hands (and eyes) on LAST SEEN IN LAPAZ.