Random Violence: A Jade de Jong Investigation
by Jassy Mackenzie
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781569476291
Date: 01 April 2010 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Not for the squeamish, Jassy Mackenzie's debut novel Random Violence, set in South Africa, is filled with it as private investigator Jade De Jong works to solve a series of murders and to avenge the death of her father that occurred ten years earlier. The dark underside of Johannesburg provides the setting. Economic growth and corruption feature prominently.
Jade fled South Africa ten years ago after killing a corrupt police official instrumental in her father's death. No one knew of her crime except for a small-time gangster. The imminent release of a man she believes instigated the death of her father triggers her return. When she returns from England, she renews old acquaintances.
She finds things changed and the people she knew have also changed. She struggles with the corruption of the police and who might have engineered her father's death beyond the one man she killed earlier. Robbie, her gangster friend, has kept her old gun and returns it to her. He has kept track of the prisoner Jade believes engineered her father's death, but also demands her cooperation in other activities. He functions as a small-time hit man.
Her friend and almost brother, David Patel, asks her to investigate the death of a well-to-do woman shot in front of her home during an attempted car jacking. However, no attempt was made to rob her or take her car. The police suspect her husband, but Jade considers him too ineffectual to have done it or to have hired others.
She learns the woman had thought someone was following her and had hired a private detective. She also had asked him to locate another woman. Things become complicated when as Jade looks through his office, she is attacked. The attackers have come to burn the office and set it on fire. Then, a ranger finds the private investigator's mutilated corpse.
Someone attacks a co-worker of the dead woman with a crowbar and steals the dead-woman's computer. Jade puzzles over how the pieces fit together: why was the woman killed, the co-worker attacked, and the detective killed?
Jade also has a hidden yen for David, but things have changed for him during her ten-year absence. She debates whether to tell him or to keep silent.
First published in South Africa, the novel was hailed by local papers for its depiction of Johannesburg. Soho specializes in mysteries with British or exotic settings. Labeled as the first of a new crime series, readers can look forward to more of Jade's adventures.