Friday, April 09, 2010

Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie

Soho Press excels in finding new voices writing crime fiction set in exotic locations. Think of Leighton Gage's Brazil, Cara Black and Paris, Garry Disher and Adrian Hyland for Australia, and debut author Shilpa Agarwal for Bombay. Now, add Jassy Mackenzie and South Africa to that illustrious company. In Random Violence, Mackenzie introduces private investigator, Jade de Jong, and an extremely brutal world.

After ten years in exile in the U.K., Jade de Jong returns home to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she's met by police Superintendent David Patel. David was an assistant to Jade's father, a police commissioner. When Jade's father was murdered, she fled, but circumstances are ripe for her return just at this time.

David has a complicated case he wants Jade to help investigate. A woman was carjacked at the gates of her own house, and killed. Her husband is the primary suspect, but, while digging around, Jade finds a pattern of such crimes in Johannesburg, "the crime capital of the world." It's a city where she herself, even as a cop's daughter, never felt safe. She's living in a rented cottage where, "She had what she needed. Steel security gates, burglar bars on all the windows and an alarm system that was linked to an armed response company."

Mackenzie describes a dangerous Johannesburg, where it's only safe to live behind barriers, with private security guards. Even then, it's easy to become a victim. She calls South Africa, "A country where breaking the rules was practically a national hobby, where people drove without licenses, dodge taxes, and employed illegal immigrants."

And, Jade is a part of that country. Although she's working with David, she has her own agenda. She's killed in the past, and plans to kill again, a secret she's keeping from the man who was always an older brother figure. Now, she's running straight into trouble as she runs from her own memories.

Random Violence is graphic at times, with a killer who thrives on torture. At the same time, the book introduces a fascinating, complicated investigator. Jade de Jong is as complex as the country and city she calls home. Jassy Mackenzie shows star power with her debut.

Jassy Mackenzie's website is

Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie. Soho Press, ©2010. ISBN 9781569476291 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I read a review copy, sent by the publisher, in hopes I would review it.


Anonymous said...

I am looking forward to reading this book soon. I have friends who livedin South Africa for years and exotic (or exotic to me) locations are something I really enjoy in mysteries. Thanks for sharing about this book, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Kay. You're right - the locations are at least exotic to me. Did you friends talk about all of the security and crime that Mackenzie discusses in her book?

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I do love exotic settings for books and this one sounds exciting. Maybe I can skim the graphic parts? I'm a scaredy-cat. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Lesa said...

Oh, I'm with you, Elizabeth. I skip the more graphic descriptions. I don't need those descriptions to get the meat of the story. You can skim them with no problem in this book.

Anonymous said...

Lesa, our friends have been back in the US for quite a while. Goodness, I guess over 20 years now, but, yes, I think they did have to have security. They were missionaries and the husband did a lot of travelling into the bush. The wife had 5 kids and she stayed very busy just trying to keep them corralled.

Lesa said...


I would think she'd want security with those 5 kids! But, if Mackenzie's book is accurate, it sounds as if Johannesburg has become very violent. But, no more so than Leighton Gage's Brazil.

Anonymous said...

Yes, you are right. We have friends who have lived in Brazil as well. Know one couple who lives there now. He is American and she is Brazilian. They met there. Anyway, I think I have talked with Leighton Gage about Brazil maybe at the Poisoned Pen Con. We also have friends who live in Chiang Mai, Thailand and in Papua New Guinea. All are missionaries and their lives are very different from their lives here.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Kay! I would imagine that their lives are very different than they are in U.S. I think we take our safety and security for granted here.