by Joe Ide
Review by Gayle Surrette
Mulholland Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316267724
Date: 18 October 2016 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Isaiah Quintabe, the IQ of this story, is an unofficial problem solver or detective that doesn't advertise, isn't a licensed P.I., and only takes cases via word of mouth. His goal is to help the people in his community but often helping out doesn't pay the rent. So when push comes to shove, and he needs to pay the bills, he takes a case to find out who is trying to kill a rap star, Calvin Wright/Black the Knife.
Juanell Dodson was the one to find this paying client and he wanted to be Isaiah's partner for the case. Dodson and Isaiah have a history, and it is not a pleasant one, as readers learn in the frequent flash backs scattered throughout the novel. These flash backs fill in the background of Isaiah and Dodson and the neighborhood they grew up in. It sets up the foundation that grounds the narrative.
Calvin says it is his wife trying to kill him and he wants Isaiah to prove it. Isaiah is determined to investigate and come to his own conclusions. There are a number of people who have their own agendas and reasons for either wanting Calvin safe or out of the way. Calvin himself is self-medicating while trying to deal with depression, anxiety, and paranoia. He won't even leave his home and, if he doesn't finish a new album by the studio deadline, his manager and producer are in big trouble.
Isaiah starts poking around and quickly gets some leads, but they're not the ones that Calvin or his hangers-on want to hear. Soon it is not just Calvin in the sights of a killer, and Isaiah has to save himself.
I didn't have many expectations going in but after a few chapters I was hooked. The plotting was tight and the flash backs added depth to the characters, setting, and motivations. The style is gritty with detail and doesn't shy away from showing the good and bad of society at all levels.
It's a look at life as many people live it, and that most of us don't understand. There are good people, bad people, and all the gradations in between. Isaiah has chosen to try to help those around him with the skills he has and he does make a difference. But, he wonders if it is enough.