Stolen Lives: A Jade de Jong Investigation
by Jassy Mackenzie
Cover Artist: Photo: Bina Sveda
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781569479094
Date: 12 April 2011 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Mackenzie's Stolen Lives continues the story of Jade de Jong, a private investigator, working in Johannesburg, South Africa. She takes what appears as a simple assignment to guard a wealthy woman whose husband is missing. Jade finds her life threatened, her client suspected of murder, and the son of a close friend kidnapped, which complicate her efforts.
The underside of Jo-burg teems with crime and violence. Torture victims and body counts mount as Jade tries to guard her client. At first, the events seem unrelated, but gradually a pattern emerges when she discovers links between local gentlemen's clubs and an international sex trade. The British police have been tracking the trade from another angle and eventually it leads back to South Africa and Jade's case. It also involves Jade's estranged lover, Superintendent David Patel.
The female British police officer has much in common with Jade, but without her killer instinct. She has had difficult personal relationships with men. Distracted a bit by a fellow officer, her persistence and intuition help with a key aspect of the case.
At first, it isn't always clear who are victims and who are villains. The action alternates between Jade and the efforts of the British. The trail also leads back to Jade's client and her relatives. In addition, during the investigation Jade learns some surprising things about her deceased mother's life.
Amoral and sociopathic characters predominate as revenge fuels messy retribution. Killing, torture, and brute force are the tactics of choice. Questions predominate over when a good end is justified by bad actions including Jade's own. Can killing ever be justified even though some of the victims would otherwise continue with horrible actions? Jade must face her own demons and doesn't like what she sees.
An accomplished writer, Mackenzie provides insights into the chaotic nature of Johannesburg and creates a frantic and satisfying conclusion similar in some ways to her debut novel with enough twists to keep the pages turning. That novel, Random Violence, 2010, gathered acclaim and positive reviews. Other adventures featuring Jade are sure to follow.