Review: Jade de Jong returns to South Africa ten years after the murder of her father, a Johannesburg Police Commissioner, ostensibly to work as a private investigator but with revenge foremost in her mind, in Random Violence, the first mystery in this series by Jassy Mackenzie.
Jade barely has time to get settled before an old friend, David Patel, her father's former assistant, now a police superintendent, asks for her help in getting some background on a murdered woman, killed apparently as a consequence of a botched carjacking. She agrees, but in parallel makes a connection with another old friend, Robbie, who supplies her with an illegal, unlicensed firearm … one with which she intends to kill the man she believes responsible for her father's death. But while she waits for the right time to take him out, she becomes intrigued with the circumstances surrounding David's murder case … and discovers a pattern of killings dating back several years, all indirectly — but almost certainly not coincidentally — connected with the country's thriving real estate market.
Part — maybe much — of the appeal of (the aptly titled) Random Violence is in the deeply conflicted character of Jade de Jong. Intelligent, resourceful, and seemingly respectful of the spirit of (if not exactly the letter of) the law, it comes as something of a shock to the reader when she participates in a murder of man based solely on Robbie's say-so. Is she really a cold-blooded killer? Or is she simply a killer with a conscience, doing a police officer's job without the restraint of rules and regulations?
The murder mystery is appropriately twisty, though it conveniently (and a little too heavily in places) relies on the incompetence of the South African police force to move the plot forward. Meanwhile, several chapters from the killer's point of view take away much of the suspense while adding little of substance back to the story. And the resolution to Jade's father's murder in the end is a little too pat. Still and all, Random Violence is a terrific, cleverly crafted debut, and one that will have readers looking forward to Jade's next case.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Random Violence for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Crime (Hardcover), April 2011
ISBN-13: 9781569479094; ISBN-10: 1569479097
Location(s) referenced in Random Violence: Johannesburg, South Africa
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Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie — A Jade de Jong Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: April 2010
List Price: $25.00