Stolen Lives is the second novel by Jassy Mackenzie, a Zimbabwean born writer. Mackenzie now lives in Jo’Burg in South Africa and this is where most of the novel is set. The title of the novel refers to the lives that are stolen and most often lost due to human trafficking. Thus some of the action takes place in England and other places feature briefly in the tale. Human trafficking is a trully global industry, if one can call it that. However South Africa seems to hold a prominent place in this dark world.
Jade de Jong is a private investigator based in Jo’Burg and she gets an apparently straightforward commission to look into a missing person case. Things however very quickly turn nasty and violent as Jade and her client are shot at while driving home. It soon becomes clear that this is anything but a simple case and Jade gets driven deeper and deeper into the sordid and brutal world of human trafficking. In this case of sex workers. Her case also links to an apparently separate police investigation in England. The pace of the novel never slackens as one promising lead after another poses more questions than answers. And who is this myterious black man who flits in and out of the picture?
This is a very good and multi-layered novel in which the various stories link well. There is quite a lot of violence and much of it is pretty brutal, but then the world of human trafficking is not in the same league as charity work. Mackenzie does a good job of making real the unexpected and far reaching international links in this nasty trade. She is also very good at creating believable and complex characters. Jade de Jong is a prime example of a fascinating, yet problematic person. Her life is complicated by the frought relationship she has with her former lover, David Patel, who is a high ranking police officer. It is through this relationship that the two stories come together in a most unexpected, though typically violent way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading the other books in the Jade de Jong series. Jassy Mackenzie is now added to Deon Meyer as another great South African writer of complex crime fiction.