Isaiah Quintabe is no longer IQ, the genius of East Long Beach; instead, he's a man on the road and on the run, hiding in a small Northern California town when his room is broken into by a desperate young man on the trail of the state's most prolific serial killer.
Quintabe springs onto the detective scene as a fresh, highly intelligent and extremely clever --- not to mention wholly human --- player here. He is real, has seen what life throws at people, and has the compassion necessary to make a difference. Joe Ide writes with authenticity, humor and grit. He doesn’t mince words, and it pays off. Big time.
Mr. Ide, always a generous plotter, weaves several other storylines into this kaleidoscopic chronicle ... Dozens of other wonderfully sketched minor characters—science-fair whiz kids, pimps and prostitutes, working-class heroes, vengeance-bent relatives, sorrowful junkies and idealistic strivers—flesh out this richly imagined and sharply written saga. 'Smoke,' which concludes with a cliffhanging crisis, positively demands a follow-up, and fast.
As a novel, 'Smoke' is a bizarre marvel: its narrative winding evil and preposterousness round and round ... In an IQ novel, there are always many simultaneous subplots that could be introduced with the transition 'Meanwhile.' ... In its own idiosyncratic fashion, 'Smoke' is superb. Just be forewarned: after enduring the horror and screwball absurdities of the novel’s extended grand and bloody climax, readers may well feel that they, like IQ himself, need a restorative break.