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Righteous: An IQ Novel


Righteous: An IQ Novel

In 2016, Joe Ide burst upon the literary scene with his stunning and completely original debut novel, IQ. For his efforts, he was lauded with tons of praise as well as an Edgar Award nomination for Best First Novel. What makes Ide's accomplishment such a praiseworthy feat is that he had already worked several careers before finally turning to full-time writing.

Ide, a Japanese-American, grew up in the South Central area of Los Angeles and from his youth possessed a love for Sherlock Holmes and the work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was Holmes who inspired his creation of Isaiah Quintabe, or “IQ.” IQ is a high school dropout more due to the fact that school bored his far more advanced mind. He decides to use his unique talent of deduction and problem-solving to help people in his area. Oftentimes he accepts bartering for things like live chickens or blueberry muffins instead of actual payment, as satisfactorily resolving the problems seems to be payment enough.

"I applaud Joe Ide for keeping the spirit of Holmes alive inside the complex and interesting character of IQ and look forward to his next adventure."

In this second novel featuring IQ, there are two cases with which he has involved himself. One is on behalf of the woman he carries a torch for, Sarita, whose sister is in trouble with a deadbeat gambling boyfriend in Las Vegas who has now put them in peril by angering some very dangerous men. The other, and the one that is far more personal to IQ, is the longtime unresolved case involving the murder of his older brother, Marcus. Marcus was not only IQ's brother but also his hero and, to some extent, the only father figure he ever knew.

The blending of the two cases could seem a bit muddled, especially with a narrative that switches between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as the past and the present. However, because IQ is such a unique character, the crazy mix of scenes and numerous characters just add to the confusion that only he can unravel.

IQ has never gotten over Marcus’ death, and Ide subtly mixes together the two situations he is investigating with an interesting crossover. The Las Vegas issue is the more difficult one as IQ is initially going in blind. He realizes that if he fails to save Sarita's sister, Janine, he may risk losing her affection permanently. Janine is described as a serial liar who is mixed up with a bad-apple boyfriend, Benny, who has angered the Chinese mob and a seven-foot-tall loan shark. IQ brings his sidekick from the hood, Dodson, with him on this mission, but they may be outmatched.

Meanwhile, IQ keeps returning to LA --- in the present tense as well as in flashbacks between him and Marcus. IQ makes enemies of some local rival gangs, even those with whom he has made temporary peace, until he is satisfied that they were not involved in any way with his brother's death. Rumors abound on the street that Marcus stole a large sum of money from one of the gangs and that is why he was silenced. If that’s true, IQ could never forgive himself as he becomes overwhelmed with guilt realizing that Marcus had indicated he was doing whatever he could to see that his genius younger brother could attend Harvard University.

RIGHTEOUS ends with the revelation of the person behind Marcus' death --- IQ's own personal Moriarty --- and it's a stunner. Sherlock Holmes is my favorite fictional character, and I love the modern-day depictions of him from TV shows like "House," "Sherlock" and "Elementary," in addition to countless novelizations. I applaud Joe Ide for keeping the spirit of Holmes alive inside the complex and interesting character of IQ and look forward to his next adventure.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 20, 2017

Righteous: An IQ Novel
by Joe Ide

  • Publication Date: September 11, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316267740
  • ISBN-13: 9780316267748