PI Jade de Jong returns

2010-10-20 00:00

THIS is the second outing for Jassy Mackenzie’s character, Jade de Jong. Jade is a private eye, based in Johannesburg, and when the story opens, she has just ended her affair with Superintendent David Patel. It seems he has taken exception to the fact that she gets a kick out of killing. Only bad guys, of course, but still … you can’t help feeling he might have a point.

Mackenzie tells a sharp, fast moving tale of human trafficking that ranges from Johannesburg to Dullstroom, to London and Central Europe. The plotting is slick, and the picture Mackenzie paints of international crime with links to this country is all too horribly plausible. Jade’s involvement begins when a wealthy Johannesburg woman hires her as a bodyguard after her husband, who runs a string of strip clubs, apparently vanishes. Jade takes her story at face value, but as the body count mounts, she begins to realise that all is not quite what it seems. The seamy and steamy underworld of strip joints and desperate women is no place for sissies.

Meanwhile, David Patel’s relationship with his estranged wife is put under even greater pressure when his son is kidnapped. He and Jade are already uneasily investigating the human trafficking case together, and as the stakes get higher, it becomes apparent that the kidnapping is not an unrelated event.

It’s a well-constructed plot, and makes for a good page turner, slightly spoilt at the end by Mackenzie bringing in what seem to be extraneous matters from Jade’s past. For me, she’s not the most appealing of PI heroines, but that said, Stolen Lives is a solid addition to the ranks of local thrillers.

Margaret von Klemperer

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