Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Review: RANDOM VIOLENCE by Jassy Mackenzie
Random Violence, by Jassy Mackenzie. Published 2010 by Soho Crime. Crime fiction.
I have another great volume 1 for my crime peeps.
Random Violence is the first in a series of mysteries by South African writer Jassy Mackenzie, starring Jade de Jong, a private detective who's just moved back home after some years abroad following the death of her policeman father in a gruesome car accident. Jade gets involved in the investigation of the murder of Annette Botha, a seemingly random attempted carjacking. Botha was shot outside her home trying to open a locked gate, and at first the case seems like just another act of violence, just another attack in a country where crime is rampant and nobody feels safe.
Jade thinks that something else might be up, though, and works with police detective- and friend- David Patel to find the truth. The search will take them through South Africa's corrupt police system, its brutal military and its absolutely bloodthirsty (literally) real estate speculation industry. Mackenzie has created a truly chilling villain in Whiteboy, a sadist responsible for many crimes, including many that no one even knows about. Alongside all of this, Jade is out to get revenge on the man she believes to be her father's killer, a man about to get out of prison, and for this she needs to reach back into the underworld. She's also got some interpersonal stuff with David.
I have to say I really enjoyed this book and want to read more in the series. I liked Jade a lot. She's complicated and tough and real. She gets some things wrong, and she learns and tries again. I bet her adventures will be fun to follow. The book is deeply atmospheric and gives a real sense of the paranoia and danger that South Africans live with, something I've noticed in a lot of books about the country. If you've read Absolution by Patrick Flanery you'll have noticed it there too.
I picked it up because she has a newish book out in the series that got a good write-up on NPR and since I enjoy reading about South Africa and I enjoy crime, I thought this would be a great fit. And it was. It was very hard to put down once the plot got rolling and though the violence could be gruesome at times, the horror of why these things were happening was almost worse than the violence itself. It ends well but it is dark, dark, dark, so take that into consideration. But for you dark-crime readers, Random Violence would be a great choice.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.