New book shows why Joe Ide is one of hottest mys­tery nov­el­ists

The Idaho Statesman (Sunday) - - OBITUARIES - BY PATRICK ANDER­SON Wash­ing­ton Post

Joe Ide was 58 when he pub­lished his first novel “IQ” two years ago. Be­fore that he’d been a school­teacher and a screen­writer. Be­ing a nov­el­ist suits him well. “IQ” won the An­thony, Ma­cav­ity and Shamus awards for out­stand­ing crime-fic­tion de­but.

Ide is a Ja­pa­nese Amer­i­can who grew up in an African Amer­i­can sec­tion of South Cen­tral Los An­ge­les. He has said this ex­pe­ri­ence helped him cre­ate his main char­ac­ter, Isa­iah Quintabe (IQ ), a young black man who af­ter an in­ter­lude of youth­ful crime, be­came a pri­vate de­tec­tive.

In “Wrecked,” the third in­stall­ment of the IQ se­ries, Quintabe is back, slowly build­ing his busi­ness in Long Beach, Calif., when an at­trac­tive young woman named Grace asks his help in find­ing her mother, whom she hasn’t seen for ten years. Grace is a pen­ni­less artist who can’t pay him, but Isa­iah likes her too much to refuse her, even af­ter he learns that her mother, Sarah, is in deep trou­ble with a group of ex-mil­i­tary men, led by Stan Wal­czak, the founder of a global se­cu­rity firm (think Black­wa­ter).

Sarah and Wal­czak were once lovers. Sarah has in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence from Abu Ghraib that proves that he and his col­leagues tor­tured prison­ers there. She’s de­manded $1 mil­lion for it. Wal­czak could pay her but would rather kill her. He sum­mons four ruth­less cronies from Abu Ghraib to do just that.

De­spite the dan­ger, Isa­iah takes the case and falls for Grace al­though he’s never had a white girl­friend and fears re­jec­tion. As it turns out, Grace is un­con­cerned about race – she likes IQ a lot – but she’s wary of in­volve­ment and wants only to find her mother. None­the­less, their grow­ing at­trac­tion in­spires a touch­ing por­trait of love and its dis­con­tents.

Grace’s life has not been easy. In a flashback we see her at age 15 when she was sent to live with fos­ter par­ents. There was a lech­er­ous fos­ter fa­ther who wouldn’t leave her alone. One day when his wife was away he told the girl he had $5,000 in cash and that they could run off to San Fran­cisco and have some fun. In­stead, Grace threat­ens to call the po­lice and de­nounce him as a pe­dophile. Soon she goes forth to make her way in the world with that $5,000 in hand.

Isa­iah’s love is sorely tested when he’s cap­tured by Wal­czak’s gang and tor­tured. He won’t talk, even dur­ing abuse and pain that are bril­liantly de­scribed and ag­o­niz­ing to read.

If I had any com­plaint about “Wrecked” it was that its abun­dance of char­ac­ters and sub­plots some­times felt like too much of a good thing. But I came to ac­cept Ide’s ex­cesses as the re­sult of his am­bi­tion, his urge to share all that he has seen and felt and known.

The won­der of love, the cru­elty of war, the black world he knows well, the mu­sic he loves (Count Basie, Duke Elling­ton, Louis Arm­strong, Ge­orge Shear­ing) – all the beauty and cru­elty and crazi­ness he filed away in his mind be­fore he be­gan writ­ing these nov­els. With “Wrecked,” Ide con­firms that he’s among the most orig­i­nal new voices in to­day’s crime fic­tion.

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