Smoke by Joe Ide [7/10]

The fifth instalment in the ongoing adventures of Isaiah Quintabe, geeky private detective extraordinaire in the hells of Los Angeles, “Smoke” no longer follows the standard format of “client presents case, IQ solves it.” At the end of the explosive fourth book, IQ fled LA and Grace, the love of his life, shattered by violence. Smoke chronicles his recovery steps, hidden a long way away, while back in his home town, we follow the adventures of Grace, sometime friend Deronda, and his on-again-off-again hipster partner Dodson, while the author introduces three disparate villains of varying levels of depravity. Like James Lee Burke, Joe Ide seems to specialise in picaresque, nigh emblematic bad guys, and Smoke sizzles with their horrors and plans. The plot rockets along, and the characters are, as always, alive with zest and ripe dialogue and thoughts. I missed the old IQ, solver of puzzles, until some of the subplots meshed together and he is forced to use all his skills. A white-knuckle ride, that’s what Smoke is, and wonderfully written. I would recommend beginning at the first book, though.

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