Monday, December 4, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Righteous by Joe Ide

      Isaiah Quintabe—IQ—can’t get over the death of his brother, Marcus. It’s been eight years, and it’s still fresh and raw, the images in his mind of Marcus being hit by a car right in front of him, the car driving off as Marcus lie in the street bleeding, dying. But Isaiah found the car, all these years later. He saw the damage, the trash left in the car: cigarette butts, beer cans, sandwich wrappers, a receipt. But what is just trash to most are clues to Isaiah, and now he knows. The seemingly random clues in a seemingly random hit and run was anything but; Marcus was murdered, Isaiah would prove it.
     Isaiah’s investigation reveals things about Marcus and his death Isaiah would have been happy not knowing. Was he dealing drugs? Involved in gang activity? Or was he framed? How could Marcus be anything but the moral compass that Isaiah had relied on?
     Meanwhile, Isaiah got a call from Sarita. Now a lawyer in Century City, he hasn’t seen or heard from her since before Marcus died. She and Marcus were a couple, The One, Marcus had said. But Sarita disappeared shortly after Marcus died. Now her sister, Janine, was in trouble in Las Vegas and needed Isaiah’s help.
     Righteous is the second book by Joe Ide featuring Isaiah Quintabe. IQ makes his living as a private detective of sorts, helping people in his poverty-stricken neighborhood. He is unlicensed and unconventional, sometimes compensated with favors or gifts instead of money his clients don’t have. IQ uses his intellect to see what others can’t or won’t, and stay a few steps ahead of his adversaries.

     Mr. Ide takes readers on a fast-paced ride that includes cases that span two cities, two violent gangs, gambling, loan sharking, murder, kidnapping, human trafficking, and more, all the while developing an intelligent but sometimes anxious, awkward, and confused character. Parts of the book have a caper-like feel to it, demonstrated when both cases come together in a surprise ending that tests Isaiah’s relationship with his friend and partner and risks all that they have worked for.    

Ide, Joe. Righteous, Mulholland Books, October 17, 2017.
ISBN 978-0-316-26777-9

A copy of Righteous was provided to The Thirty Year Itch by the publisher via No compensation was provided for this review. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Unholy City by Carrie Smith

       New York Police Department Detectives Claire Codella and Brian Haggerty are working hard to redefine their relationship. The one-time partners worked well together in the past, but when Haggerty drunkenly expressed his feelings for her one night, followed by Codella’s long-term absence while fighting cancer, the two became estranged.  Now, they’re working it out, and their new relationship has become a comfortable routine.
    At the beginning of Unholy City, the third in the Claire Codella series by Carrie Smith, Det. Haggerty is called out late one night to investigate a murder at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on the Upper West side of Manhattan, he knows he’ll need help. Det. Codella is assigned, and she quickly finds a second body outside the church.
     Working on the theory that the killer must be one of the six church members present at the time of the murders, the detectives investigate, reminiscent of a good game of Clue, to determine who had the motive, means, and opportunity to carry out the murders.

Author Carrie Smith
     Ms. Smith's Codella Series is often classified as police procedural, and that is not inaccurate as detectives work methodically to solve murders. But it would be unfair to readers and to Ms. Smith’s work to discount the characters that she has developed, particularly Claire Codella. This passage, early in Unholy City, demonstrates how Ms. Smith is able to expertly fuse the fast-moving, page turning pace of the police procedural with the development of character.

     “Nothing compared to an all-encompassing homicide investigation. To Codella, it was the ultimate form of self-expression, a pursuit that required the use of all your senses, stamina, and mental powers. You pieced together the solution to a crime like a master builder. Your bricks were forensic evidence; careful chronologies of dates, times, and places; the confirming and contradictory accounts of witnesses; suspects’ unintended slips of the tongue. And you arranged these blocks with the stiff mortar of analytical reasoning to erect a solid, impenetrable wall of truth that could withstand the forces of dispute and denial.”

     Det. Codella is certainly the protagonist, but the other characters aren’t without depth. Each of the six suspects is dynamic and complicated, able to compel sympathy and ire.  

     Unholy City is the third in the Codella series, following Forgotten City and SilentCity. Each book has been better than its predecessor, and I hope that continues with a fourth.

Smith, Carrie. Unholy City, Crooked Lane Books, November 7, 2017. 

A copy of Unholy City was provided by the publicist. No compensation was received for this review. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Bluebird, Bluebird by Attical Locke

    Darren Matthews was gone—free, maybe—from East Texas that seemed to have a grip on so many who were unable, or afraid, to leave. Darren was in his third year of law school in Chicago, married to a fellow student, and ready to take on the world. But duty--his sense of it anyway, not his lawyer and professor Uncle Clayton’s, or his wife Lisa’s--called, and Darren returned to become a Texas Ranger, following in the footsteps of his Uncle William, the first Black Ranger.
     But things don’t always work as planned, and the
beginning of Bluebird, Bluebird, the fourth novel by Attica Locke, finds Darren suspended from the Rangers, separated from Lisa, and battling the demons of alcohol. But when a friend from the FBI calls and asks him to look into two deaths in nearby Shelby County, one of a black man and the second a white woman, Darren can’t resist. He’ll just look, see if they’re connected, maybe race related, and report to his friend. Too much effort could put what’s left of his career in jeopardy, but not looking into it could mean that the deaths could go uninvestigated, and Darren wouldn’t have that. His “looking into it” uncovers a town that seems not to have progressed in decades, and a possible stronghold for the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Were the deaths related? How deep are the ties of the ABT to local law enforcement? And how far will they all go to prevent Darren from finding the truth?
     Bluebird, Bluebird has something for most readers. A great crime to investigate; a Texas Ranger family legacy, complete with its blemishes; the story of a small East Texas town; and the roles of race in America, both today and over the lifetimes of many characters in this book. Some parts made me wish the book was set in 1917, not 2017, as there was clearly not enough progress in the 100-year interim.

Locke, Attica. Bluebird, Bluebird, Mulholland Books, September 12, 2017.
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316363297

A copy of Bluebird, Bluebird was provided by the publisher via  No compensation was provided for this review. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille

    Another page turner from Nelson DeMille! The Cuban Affair features a new character, Daniel 'Mac' McCormick, an Army vet escaped to Key West and running a heavily mortgaged fishing charter. When he's approached by Cuban Americans interested in retrieving some cash and papers from the Old Country, he thinks maybe the adventure--more appropriately mission--could fill the void and need for adventure that he's been feeling. And pay off his boat. And maybe some extra cash. And his parter in this adventure, Sara Ortega, was motivating in her own right!  

     The Cuban Affair is classic DeMille. A fun, witty, smart assed protagonist; a beautiful, confused, less than honest with Mac but honest in her cause partner; rich and colorful characters; and a peek into the unknown in descriptions and experiences in Cuba. 

     While there's not a lot of new ground in the style or tone of this book, it is a fun and easy read that will keep you up at night to finish!

DeMille, Nelson. The Cuban Affair, Simon & Schuster, September 19, 2017. 

A copy of The Cuban Affair was provide by the publisher via NetGalley. No compensation was provided for this review.