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Divine Justice by Joanne Hichens

Divine Justice (edition 2011)

by Joanne Hichens

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Title:Divine Justice
Authors:Joanne Hichens
Info:Burnet Media (2011), Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Tags:noir fiction, detective fiction, south african modern fiction

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Divine Justice by Joanne Hichens

Recently added byJudyCroome, adpaton



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DIVINE JUSTICE is not a comfortable book for a romantic like me to read. It is, however, fast paced and very well written, and clearly deserves its inclusion on the 2011 Sunday Times' list of top South African thrillers.

The first adventure of the one-legged Private Investigator Rae Valentine, the strength of DIVINE JUSTICE lies in its well-constructed plot and vivid descriptions. From the opening scene of a devastating fire on Table Mountain to the final action where Rae must fight for her life and her sanity, this hard-boiled, edgy story thrums along with gritty details of the seamier side of life in Cape Town.

In Rae Valentine, Hichens gives us a spirited female character, as vulnerable as she is tough and intelligent. She doesn't get much help from her unreliable partners, who must struggle with their own demons while Rae struggles with villains who are dangerous fanatics and provide a taut edge of uncertainty throughout the book. When people are that crazy and hate-filled, anything can happen. This constant sense of imminent loss of control by any of the Boyz, or the Pastor (who has a fetish for amputees), keeps the tension high right until the end.

Throughout the story, Hichens explores the themes of trust (or lack of it), religious fundamentalism and survival. When desperately fighting for her life, Rae must find the mental muscle to do anything it takes to survive…

If you like noir crime writing where the world is not a nice place, colourful characters run amok, a city burns with both flames and rage, a few mad capers take place in a dark underbelly of South Africa and its neighbour Namibia, I guarantee DIVINE JUSTICE will keep you turning the pages as fast as you can. ( )
  JudyCroome | Nov 3, 2012 |
I have just spent an enthralling weekend with two really wonderful women: Rae is from Cape Town and Jade is from Johannesburg but the two have a lot in common – both are hard core private investigators, both are feminine and sensitive despite their feisty exteriors, both have dark and troubled pasts, and both have been recently let down in love.
The fact that these two ladies are fictional is a minor matter and certainly no deterrent to enjoying their company – far from it because the violent escapades in which they routinely engage are far too physical and frightening for your average armchair detective and far better appreciated on the page than in reality.
Divine Justine features the extraordinary Rae Valentine, brought to us by Joanne Hichens: this is the second story to feature Rae but in the first, Out to Score [which Hichens co-authored with the redoubtable Mike Nicol] she had merely a walk-on role as the girlfriend of the PI hero, Mullet Mendes.
Rae is one of those sexy, sultry mixed race beauties, pouting lips, bedroom eyes and curves in all the right places, but she is also a crack shot, a compulsive swimmer, and – get this – sports a prosthetic leg.
The thing about Rae is that she was a junky and lost her limb when her veins collapsed due to her habit of shooting up between her toes: now she has turned herself around and is a motivational speaker, an addictions counselor, has been commissioned to write a memoir, and also sports a new PI badge enabling her to join her boyfriend Mullet’s firm.
But Mullet has dumped her in favour of his defence lawyer [he’s been charged with shooting men who attempted to rape and torture Rae] and his partner Vince Saldana is battling his own demons, being an alcoholic who appears to have fallen into a bottle and drowned there.
Rae is running the firm pretty much on her own when she accepts a case from an elderly German woman whose jewellery has been stolen: it feels wrong and there are too many unanswered questions, but they need the money, and so the investigation begins.
Set against the background of xenophobic violence and religious intolerance, the story begins with an evangelical neo-Nazi religious maniac wondering the slopes of Table Mountain and interpreting the intense heat and summer fires as a sign of End Times when only his followers, holed up in a whites-only haven, will survive the conflagration.
However, to build this luxurious sanctuary, he needs funds – and more than his deluded disciples contribute – and gets embroiled with a manipulative crook who, together with his ‘boys’, a gang of young sadistic sociopaths, explode ATMs, rob and kill to collect funds purportedly for the refuge of the chosen.
While Rae, kidnapped by the mad Evangelist - who has a thing for amputees and wants her to be his ‘queen’ - battles to escape from the camp on the border with Namibia, let’s move across to the other side of the country, where Jade de Jong is holidaying in St Lucia.
This is the third in the Jade de Jong series by Jazzy Mackenzie and they just get better and better as we learn more about this tough woman whose policeman father was murdered ten years ago – causing her the flee South Africa for London where she learned to become a bodyguard – and whose long-dead mum appears to have been some sort of killer-for-hire.
Jade has abandoned the frenetic pace of her native Johannesburg for some down-time at a small resort in the KZN world heritage site St Lucia, where she is trying to conquer her fear of the sea and learning how to scuba dive before the arrival of her lover police Superintendent David Patel.
When he arrives though everything goes wrong: he tells her his wife – from whom he has been separated for some time – is pregnant with his child and he’s going to give the marriage another shot, driving Jade to have a desperate one-night stand. On top of that she discovers the bloody body of her driving instructor, stabbed to death.
Forced to stay at the resort until the police have concluded their investigation, Jade decides to find out more about her mother, who died at Richard’s Bay: her attempt at this are not very successful but she does become aware of something sinister happening – the murder at St Lucia was just a sideline to the main event.
David is shot; Jade is kidnapped but escapes to foil a ruthless BEE magnate’s plans to destroy the eco-system in the St Lucia Estuary, leaving himself a clear mandate to tear up the beach with mining. Sadly, this is a very real prospect and, as usual, Mackenzie can rely on the newspapers rather than her imagination for her ideas.
Having disposed of the dastardly crew she returns to Jozi and tries to mop up a few niggling loose ends [her wonderful description of one of those hated Midrand cluster estates packed with faux Tuscan houses and even more faux people is priceless] only to discover things are not what they seem.
A marvelous last minute twist will have readers nipping straws as Jade races across Jo’Burg, down Louis Botha, hiding from the police behind the landmark Dolls House roadhouse, then cutting through the quiet streets of Houghton and across town to leafy Emmerentia, desperate to prevent one last murder taking place.
These were wonderful reads about women who are excellent role models for younger readers, both with compelling personalities and riveting stories. The only way Hichens or Mackenzie could improve is if they joined forces and gave us a co-written thriller featuring both Rae Valentine and Jade de Jong, the sexiest, savviest and sharpest PIs in South Africa. ( )
  adpaton | Nov 2, 2011 |
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