Review: Righteous

Isaiah "IQ" Quintabe, the Sherlock-inspired protagonist from Joe Ide's debut, IQ, is still solving crimes in East Long Beach when he happens upon the car responsible for the hit-and-run death of his brother 10 years earlier. The junkyard discovery re-ignites IQ's resolve to find Marcus's killer. Even though Isaiah moved on with his life and found a role in his community, the loss of his only family haunts him. He knew "eliminating whoever caused your pain didn't eliminate the pain itself, but that was an intellectual perspective and one that had no effect on his intentions."

Meanwhile, Sarita, Marcus's ex-girlfriend, contacts IQ about a job. Isaiah hasn't spoken to her in nearly a decade, but he's secretly been in love with Sarita since she dated his brother; he will do anything to prove his worth to her. Sarita's half-sister, Janine, owes overwhelming debts in Las Vegas and is in serious trouble. The risks are high on this case, and a wrong move could result in prosecution for both Sarita and Isaiah. But Isaiah is determined to come through for the woman he loves, so he calls on his former partner, Dodson, and they head to Sin City.

Ide alternates chapters between Isaiah's Long Beach investigation into his brother's murder and the duo's efforts in Las Vegas to untangle Janine from the deadly web she's caught in. The initial transition may catch readers off guard, but the flow quickly becomes evident and the plot's engaging action will keep readers riveted.

As the incredibly smart but socially challenged IQ works on the cases, Ide more deeply crafts his dynamic character and the internal conflicts that plague him. Interacting with his dog, Ruffin, and his old friend TK, the young introvert takes on strong definition, allowing readers to fortify their connection to him. The arrival of a mysterious, dog-loving artist named Grace adds more dimension to the already rich plot while presenting IQ with a new quandary.

Like Ide's first novel, Righteous is dark, smart and layered. It also displays brilliant humor, especially through Dodson, who is never short on a colorful exchange packed with wit and sarcasm. Dodson struggles to think at IQ's level, but his own practical intelligence is far from lacking, as is evident in a heated exchange over the merits of a pepperball gun in a shootout:

" 'A habanero pepper is rated at five hundred thousand Scoville units. These are rated at fifteen million.' "

" 'Uh-huh,' " Dobson said. " 'So how many units is a bullet?' "

In the midst of a palpitation-inducing fight scene, Ide pulls the pin and lobs a joke grenade. The explosion works perfectly while maintaining the scene's intensity and pacing. With only two books under his belt, Ide has proven he's first-rate when it comes to writing great crime novels. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: IQ, the smart and socially awkward PI solving cases in the East Long Beach hood, still searching for his brother's murderer, heads to Las Vegas on a case for his brother's ex-girlfriend.

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