Title: Naked Secret
Author: Karo Oforofuo
Genre: Short fiction, mystery
Publisher: Okadabooks (www.okadabooks.com)
Reviewer: Ehichoya Ekozilen
A revenge mission with an intriguing twist—that is how I would describe Naked Secret, a long short story (you can call it a novella; the author breaks it into chapters and all) by Karo Oforofuo. It is not particularly well written and the storytelling and character development are far from stellar but if you like mystery—the sort Ruth Rendel wrote—you should find this story a good read.
Set somewhere in southern Nigeria, it is the story of two crime bosses locked in a fight to the death. In this fight, nothing is too dirty, so long as you win. So kidnapping, murder, neuropsychiatric brainwashing, etc., are routine. One is a hero to the poor, the sort they give a knighthood at the churches, while the other is the sort of villain that would make El Chapo blanch.
“No need to do it over and over again papa.” Vincent said. “Its best if we just kill him once and for all. You swine! You harassed the villagers, you made them prisoners in their own homes. You and your men raped their wives and daughters because you wanted them to give you more babies for your rituals. You’re the devil himself.”
“Are you done?” Emunaka asked, laughing. “You don’t even know what I have done to you. I dealt with you in the worst possible way. I have some revelations to share.”
While the twist in this story is intriguing, the author could have done a far better job of writing the story. One thing is the characters. Here we have a crime boss who doesn’t behave like one at all. Ok, we’re supposed to believe he isn’t really a bad person but he has a mansion full of secret chambers and escape routes and bodyguards and assorted firearms.
Thing is, he doesn’t behave like a crime boss. In fact, he doesn’t behave like a smart person at all. The family has intelligence that a strange girl is coming over to kill and destroy. Then a strange girl walks in the gate and she not only gets audience with him within 24 hours but she gets trusted with his life soon afterwards. Not even warnings from his own son and bodyguards would put him on the alert. And then the son starts flip-flopping from trusting her to not trusting her—for no good reasons. In fact, these people are so lax about their security that there are no secret cameras planted and no one tries to keep the intruder under watch.
This work shows poor editing. In fact, it would appear that basic proofreading was not done—much less professional editing—before someone hit the send button. The flaws are in a lot of places. We even see continuity problems, with Dafe in chapter eight morphing into Dayo in chapter nine. And it is as if a lot of writers are yet to get used to the presence of mobile phones and the social media with us. Far too many stories still read as if you are in 1970. Vincent makes a shocking discovery that has serious ramifications for the security of the household, especially his father. The source of the threat is meant to be back home with his father at that very moment. So does he whip out his mobile phone and call his father or the man’s chief bodyguard? No. He goes asking the villagers if they had seen a girl. But a few pages ahead someone calls someone on a mobile phone and we realise it’s a contemporary story.
I assure you, however, that reading this story is worth the time. It gets humdrum in some places but if you stay with it you get rewarded in the end and Oforofuo resolves most of the conflicts rather well. Read Naked Secret and form your own opinion.