Vamba Sherif

Bound to Secrecy

William Mawolo arrives in a small Liberian town with a secret mission: to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the police chief. The locals, however — police force and citizens alike — are far from happy about his presence, and their hostility is increasing daily, threatening to boil over. At the same time, Mawolo is drawn to the departed chief's daughter, Makemeh, who for some reason doesn't seem to be too concerned about her missing father.Intrigued, Mawolo decides to stay longer than required — and even attempts to take charge of the town. Little by little, he starts to behave like the despotic man whose disappearance he came to investigate. His desire to uncover the town's dark secrets puts him in danger . . . but will his heart rule his head?Bound To Secrecyis an exploration of power and the fear it generates; and of love in all its magical, addictive forms. A rich mix of African tradition, classic crime fiction and the supernatural, Bound to Secrecy is a captivating account of the complexities of Liberian society and the inevitable clash between modern life and ancient cultures.'Written in a clear and direct style, this is an intelligent and mature African-set crime narrative that communicates its effects with maximum efficiency. William Mawolo is sent to a small Liberian town with a clandestine agenda: he is to investigate the disappearance of the local police chief. But (as so often in similar scenarios) he encounters a wall of indifference and noncommunication from the townspeople, and matters are further complicated by his attachment to the missing police chief's daughter; she seems curiously unconcerned about the disappearance of her father. While Bound to Secrecy functions as an efficient crime drama, it also (in the interstices) examines aspects of African traditions and even attitudes to the supernatural which still trouble the continent. Vamba Sherif, born in Liberia, whets the appetite for his other work with this impressive novel.' Barry Forshaw, (Crime Time) 'Sherif is a master storyteller whose multi-linguality is definitely evident in the lyricism of his writing; the translation to English doesn't lose that quality. He tells stories of Liberia for the Liberian reader, without pandering to or losing his Western readers' ability to get the culturally specific references in his writing. Sherif's honesty in framing this contemporary Liberian town, still deeply rooted in the superstitions and sexism of traditional, insular inland communities, is refreshing, its impression lasting, haunting. As with all detective stories — and with life — the answer to the riddle is under William Mawolo's nose the entire time.(Wayétu Moore, One More Books)
149 printed pages
Original publication


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