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Thursday 12 April 2018
‘Righteous’ by Joe Ide
There’s a spring in my step as I open this book – the hotly anticipated follow- up to the author’s terrific debut IQ. The super sleuth with the golden heart, African-American Isaiah Quintabe, like Sherlock Holmes investigates from insight to solve crimes and wrongdoings in his neighbourhood of East Long Beach, south Los Angeles.
In this new novel, finding his beloved late big brother Marcus’s car rotting in a junkyard but teeming with clues and evidence, it occurs to Isaiah that Marcus wasn’t, as he assumed, the innocent victim of a hit and run accident but was deliberately targeted. Isaiah is determined to leave no stone unturned to nail the why and the how.
The narrative starts some years later where the previous story left off and once again we meet Isaiah’s mismatched, wise-cracking, sidekick Dodson, now more grown-up, with a steady, sassy woman and a baby on the way.
It’s Sarita, Marcus’s glam girlfriend, now a hotshot lawyer, who sets things spinning. Isaiah has always harboured a secret crush for her and he can hardly believe his luck when, out of the blue, she calls him to locate her wayward, missing half-sister Janine, a Vegas DJ with a gambling addiction and Janine’s loser man, Benny. Both are on the run from a murderous loan shark, Leo.
What’s interesting is the number of sub-plots on the go that are cleverly interwoven into the fabric of the story. In the underworld of LA, the reader is exposed to a Chinese triad of moneylenders and cold-blooded sex traffickers. Then there’s Seb, an outwardly genteel but vicious Rwandan Hutu, who lost a leg when attacked by a machete wielding Tutsi and fled to the US where he prospered, amassing valuable real estate through shady deals laundering dirty money. And thrown into the ethnic mix is a Mexican drug cartel. There’s no love lost between any of them and the author has skillfully and stylishly captured their rivalries and way of life with some cracking, biting backchat.
The characterisation is five star, the loose ends are brilliantly tied up, there’s a rhythm to the story, all of which add up to a must read entertainment.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax
Joe Ide is of Japanese American descent. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles. Joe’s favorite books were the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. The idea that a person could face the world and vanquish his enemies with just his intelligence fascinated him. Joe went on to earn a graduate degree and had several careers before writing his debut novel, IQ, inspired by his early experiences and love of Sherlock. Joe lives in Santa Monica, California.
Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.