Righteous by Joe Ide
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. At least that’s the general rule, but unfortunately if you cross a Chinese triad it may not apply.
Isaiah Quintabe (a/k/a IQ) is a brilliant young man who acts as an informal private detective and problem solver which has earned him a lot of respect from the people of his neighborhood in East Long Beach, but he’s haunted by the death of his big brother Marcus who was killed by a hit-and-run driver that was never caught. Marcus’ old girlfriend contacts Isaiah looking for help in trying to get her gambling addicted younger sister out of a jam with a loan shark in Las Vegas. Isaiah asks his old partner Dodson to help him out, but the two of them quickly learn that the little sister and her idiot boyfriend have also made the enormous mistake of trying to blackmail a Chinese triad with some business records they’ve obtained. All of this is happening as Isaiah is trying to deal with a new lead that indicates that his brother was murdered and not just the victim of a careless accident.
I very much enjoyed the first novel IQ in this new series from author Joe Ide, but this doesn’t meet the highs of that one. I won’t go so far as to call it a sophomore slump, but it didn’t seem as fresh or fun this time out.
One of the bigger problems is IQ himself. The whole concept here is a modern take on Sherlock Holmes with an African-American detective living in a poor area instead of white sleuth in upscale Victorian London, and that worked really well in the first book. However, here Isaiah comes across as more of a naïve jerk rather than the more sympathetic portrayal of a person isolated by his brilliance and lack of patience with social skills. I also liked that rather than have Dodson just be his ass-kissing sidekick like Watson is to Holmes that his relationship with Isaiah is much more contentious, and that Dodson is continually frustrated by Isaiah’s methods. Again, that’s a lot less fun this time, and the constant bickering between the two got on my nerves.
The ending of this with Isaiah finally uncovering the circumstances of his brother’s death is also a whole lot of convoluted nonsense with an ending that feels less than satisfying.[The way that Isaiah handles it seems especially irresponsible. Marcus was murdered by a dangerous man who had been obsessed with his girlfriend for years as part of a crazy scheme to get Marcus out of the way. Then Isaiah gets his revenge by telling this guy that he told the woman what he did and that she will never be interested in him. Only we learn that Isaiah actually doesn’t tell her any of it. So this supposedly great student of human nature thinks that the best way to deal with an obsessive stalker with a history of murder is to destroy his fantasy of being with this woman, and then Isaiah doesn’t even warn her that this guy is around and killed her old boyfriend? This seems like a terrible plan on every level. (hide spoiler)]
I also had some problems with the time hopping between Isaiah in Vegas vs. Isaiah at home investigating his brother’s death. I was listening to the audio version, and there weren’t any indications of this so that I actually thought I’d screwed up and was listening to the wrong part a couple of times. It eventually all comes together, but it was fairly confusing for a chunk of the book.
Despite these problems I still liked this overall. Isaiah is still interesting even if he bordered on seeming like a complete jerk for much of the book, and I found Dodson even more entertaining this time. The other characters are also well developed, and the whole plot about the triads was a lot better than the stuff about finding who killed his brother. The ending also seemed to set things up for Isaiah to grow as a person as well as maybe move on to bigger and better cases so hopefully that’s what we’ll get more of in the future.
View all my reviews