The game’s afoot once again for 20-something genius sleuth Isaiah Quintabe, who has two cases to deal with: one leading him to mayhem in Las Vegas, the other to the man responsible for his brother’s death.
Things are pretty much as we left them with Isaiah in Ide’s acclaimed debut mystery/thriller, IQ (2016). He’s still leading a mostly solitary life in his East Long Beach, California, neighborhood, using his agile intellect to help old ladies find lost jewelry, chase away abusive ex-husbands, or deal with volatile gang members who think he’s too smart for his own good. The one case he’d most like to crack involves the hit-and-run death of his beloved older brother, Marcus. Just as he’s finally figured out that Marcus’ death was no accident, IQ gets a call from drop-dead-gorgeous Sarita Van, his late brother’s one-time fiancee, who's now a high-powered attorney. She wants him to find her younger sister, Janine, a Vegas-based club DJ who shares a gambling addiction with her ne’er-do-well boyfriend, Benny. They’re on the run from Leo, a vicious loan shark, whose collector in chief is a 7-foot-tall, broad-shouldered, dead-eyed Canadian named Balthazar. Isaiah’s only backup on this mission is his short-fused but dauntless neighborhood buddy, Dodson, whose own plate is full trying to make his food truck profitable and waiting for his wife to give birth to their first child. Once on the Vegas strip, this post-Millennial Holmes and Watson get far more than they bargained for as they have to fight and think their way through waves of Chinese mob muscle led by a baleful sex trafficker leaning heavily on Sarita and Janine’s craven, corrupt father. Ide weaves the often antic events of this case in tandem with Isaiah’s lonesome inquiry into his brother’s death; a pursuit that leads him to the sinister Seb Habimana, an East African refugee who’s made his mark in Isaiah’s hood in shady real estate dealings and shadier money laundering operations. The plots of these separate cases collide as much as they interweave, and Ide can sometimes go a little too long and deep on background info. But he keeps your head in the game throughout with his witty style and edgy storytelling, both of which show greater assurance than in his first novel—and even bigger potential for the future.
A thrilling follow-up to one of the more auspicious detective-series debuts in recent memory.