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by Joe Ide
Mulholland, October 2017
325 pages
ISBN: 0316267775

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In the second of Joe Ide's Isaiah Quintabe series, we continue to get to know his unusual hero, IQ, who lives in the hood, helps out his community by using his super intelligence, a la Sherlock Holmes, and at twenty-five, struggles to put his personality back together after the murder of his older brother eight years earlier.

IQ is a withdrawn sort of guy, only comfortable with his unpredictable pit bull, Ruffin. Although he drives a fancy car, he is often without financial means, since he devotes his investigating to solving the problems of his community, like finding an old lady's favourite brooch or getting a guy to stop stalking his ex-girlfriend.

Sarita, Marcus's old girlfriend, has asked Isaiah to help her sister Janine and her guy Benny who are both compulsive gamblers. They live in Vegas, so Isaiah and his pal Dodson head to Vegas. As soon as they arrive, things get VERY complicated. There are Latino and Chinese gangs, a one-legged Rwandan stalker, drug wars and human trafficking. It does not take long for Isaiah to get into the middle of all of this.

But meanwhile he is boiling with righteous rage about his brother's death. In fact, the most interesting thing about this novel is Isaiah's growth. He is still in the thrall of magical thinking: Sarita will love him if he fixes Janine; finding Marcus's killer will solve all his problems; his pit bull will magically obey him. So he blunders through the novel, brilliantly detecting but acting like an idiot. Meanwhile his pal Dodson is trying to compete with Isaiah's detecting skills, creating some quite funny scenes.

Ide has created wonderful battle scenes with Isaiah always in the middle. Ide has a delightful tongue in cheek attitude toward the action. But most satisfying is to see Isaiah beginning to grow up. His righteousness brings no satisfaction when he finds Marcus's killer. His dog clearly needs the training he finally decides to give him. He begins to get rid of the chip on his shoulder, look around for cases that will sustain him, and, surprise of surprises, he starts to gain some social skills and realize there are friends all around him.

I await a third IQ Novel where Isaiah demonstrates his maturity while solving more and more complicated cases. And perhaps he will also take on more settings that are as interesting as East Long Beach and Las Vegas. Go for it, Joe!

Susan Hoover is a playwright, independent producer and retired college English teacher. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Reviewed by Susan Hoover, September 2017

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