Book Review: Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie

Random Violence
Jassy Mackenzie
Soho Crime, April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-56947-911-7
Trade Paperback

Jade deJong , the headstrong protagonist of this terrific new novel, is a p.i. who has left her native South Africa, but following a ten-year absence has returned after, most recently, doing surveillance work in England.  Her father, before his death, had been police commissioner in Johannesburg, described as a city filled with crime and brutality.  The tale opens with the brutal murder of a young woman in what initially appears to have been an attempted carjacking, the first but hardly the last violent act in this novel.

Jade, thirty-four years old, has long-standing relationships with two men, who couldn’t be less alike:  David, a cop who trained under her father’s mentorship and is now a Superintendent in the Johannesburg Central police headquarters, with whom she has a chaste friendship which she would like to see evolve into something more intimate; and Robbie, a small-time gangster whose own attempts at intimacy she rejects, but who serves a purpose.  She has timed her return home with the expected release from prison of a convicted murderer who she blames for her father’s death.  Ultimately, her sense of justice, and her determination to see it done, provides her motivation despite some narrow escapes and the continuing jeopardy in which she finds herself.

The author, who was raised in South Africa, has written a debut novel which brings the country to gritty life, a fast-paced and gripping tale with memorable characters.  Readers, including this one, can look forward to her follow-up entry in the series, Stolen Lives, due out in April in hardcover.


Reviewed by Gloria Feit, March 2011.