Stolen Lives (Jade de Jong #2), by Jassy Mackenzie

Four stars (of five)

After enjoying her first novel, I dove right in to try another Mackenzie police procedural. Jade de Jong assumes the role of bodyguard to Pamela Jordaan, a job that seems simple enough. Pamela’s husband, Terence, is missing without a trace and for unknown reasons. However, Jade soon discovers that there is more to this job, as someone makes an attempt on Pamela’s life within the first few hours. Pamela’s daughter, Tasmin soon goes missing as well, leaving Jade to wonder if there is a larger issue at play. Turning to Superintendent David Patel, Jade opens an investigation of her own to keep Pamela out of harm’s way. Patel begins working with Jade on the seedier side of the exotic dancer business, where the Jordaan’s make most of their money. When detectives at Scotland Yard place a call to Patel, informing him that Johannesburg is home to a large human trafficking ring, with ties to the UK, the investigation takes a darker turn. This ring may relate to some of the Jordaan issues, as well as corruption within Home Affairs, where Patel’s wife hold a powerful position, overseeing the granting of passport and identification books to all South Africans. The entire situation is plagued by the kidnapping of young Kevin Patel, forcing both parents to flex their respective muscle to ensure the traffickers get what they need to ensure Kevin’s release. As Jade digs deeper, she realises that everything is interconnected, including her feelings for David. How will she handle her job, her personal life, and knowing that she may lose both if she cannot remain professional? Mackenzie returns with another riveting story and drops a bomb on Jade in the closing chapters, sure to keep the reader spellbound and our protagonist gasping for breath.

I find the entire package that Mackenzie offers up to be highly intriguing and thought-provoking. While her opening novel addressed South Africa as a country trying to dig out from under apartheid, this one addresses the bureaucratic corruption within Home Affairs that facilitates false documentation for those with the means to buy it. Mackenzie argues that South Africa remains a target for criminals and that its bureaucracy works on bribes to grease the proverbial wheel. Telling a political, personal, and rime-based story all at once takes talent, something Mackenzie has in spades.

Kudos, Madam Mackenzie for this wonderful novel. I continue to marvel at your abilities and hope things continue to lure me in as you have up to now.