The present day, with its high-strung social media and emotional overload, could use a contemporary hero like Ide's, more...

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IQ

From the IQ series , Vol. 1

Sherlock Holmes comes to South Central Los Angeles. Only he’s black, never finished high school, and can’t seem to hold on to a regular job.

Unlike Holmes or other flamboyant “consulting detectives” whose powers of ratiocination have held readers’ imaginations captive since the Victorian era, Isaiah Quintabe, young, gifted, and nonchalantly brilliant, displays few distinguishable quirks beyond a formidable attention span that misses nothing. Well, having a live chicken named Alejandro wandering around his crib may be a little eccentric. But IQ, as he’s appropriately known, earned that bird for services rendered as a discreet, unlicensed investigator who finds missing people, recovers stolen property, and unravels puzzles too delicate or perplexing for the LAPD to handle. Business is steady but sluggish, and IQ, goaded by a one-time high school frenemy named Dodson (rhymes with “Watson,” get it?), agrees to go for bigger bucks in helping to find out who’s trying to murder rap idol Calvin “Black the Knife” Wright, who’s undergoing something of an emotional crisis. The list of suspects is, to say the least, eclectic, beginning with Cal’s ex-wife, Noelle, an ambitious pop diva, and a posse of hangers-on and moneymen, any one of whom might be greedy or vicious enough to sic upon Cal the most monstrously lethal attack dog since the Hound of the Baskervilles. In his debut novel, Ide, a Japanese-American who grew up in the same neighborhood as his mercurial characters, flashes agility with streetwise lingo, facility with local color, and empathy with even the most dissolute of his characters. If there’s a problem, it’s that IQ, for all his brilliance at inductive reasoning (as opposed to “deductive”; apparently there is a difference), seems at once too removed and too moody for readers to connect with. His origin story, alternating with the main investigation, at times reads like the usual gang-violence melodrama. But the roughhousing energy, vivid language, and serrated wit Ide displays throughout this maiden effort make Isaiah Quintabe seem a potential rejuvenator of a grand literary tradition.

The present day, with its high-strung social media and emotional overload, could use a contemporary hero like Ide's, more inclined to use his brain than his mouth (or fists) to vanquish evil and subdue dread.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-26772-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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