PALE HORSES


By Jassy Mackenzie

Soho, April 16, 2013 ($25.95)

ISBN-13: 978-1-61695-221-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

South African private investigator Jade de Jong doesn't really need any more work at the moment, but Chris Theron was referred to her by an important client, and he seems genuinely distressed about the death of his friend Sonet van Rensburg. She died in a base jump from a sixty-five story skyscraper when her parachute failed to open, moments after Theron safely made the jump. The police say it was an unfortunate accident, but he believes she was murdered.

Sonet worked for a charity that was helping African groups to improve their farming skills and become self-sustaining communities. It seems like a worthy cause, but Jade's investigation leads her into a dangerous world of corporate greed, corruption at high levels, and environmental disaster: a cautionary tale for our times.

In her quest to uncover the truth about Sonet's death, she encounters a varied group of folks, some who are more or less willing to help, some who seek to hinder her, and some who want to harm her. Sonet's sister, a journalist, is nowhere to be found, but Jade bumps into a friend of the woman who provides some pieces to the complex puzzle. A white supremacist whose family farm was appropriated by the state and given to an African tribe by the charity is frightening and belligerent, but gives Jade a whole new take on the situation. A woman who managed to escape one dangerous situation, only to find herself in an even more perilous spot, has knowledge that will break the case wide open, if only she can live long enough to share it.

Jade has not seen her former lover, Police Superintendent David Patel , since he left her to return to his pregnant wife, but she seeks his assistance when she realizes how serious the case is. He is having problems of his own, in addition to being stuck in a loveless marriage. Someone has been leaving him vaguely threatening notes, and he fears for his family. Jade offers her skills to track down the culprit, and the two pick up the threads of their shattered relationship in the process.

Jade de Jong is one tough lady, one of the most fascinating protagonists around. She is flawed, emotionally fragile, yet tough as nails. She skirts the boundaries of the law, yet has a strong moral code. This is the fourth in the excellent Jade de Jong Investigation series. Like the previous books, it is full of colorful, well-drawn characters, colorful details of life in South Africa, and is a thumping great story.

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