Category Archives: Smoke

Review: Smoke by Joe Ide

Title: Smoke by Joe Ide
IQ Series Book Five
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 337 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Isaiah Quintabe—an unlicensed detective for all seasons—and his best friend and masterful sidekick, Juanell Dodson, are at a crossroads in this latest installment of the “aggressively entertaining” IQ series (New York Times). This time, their lives may never be the same.

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.

His old partner, Juanell Dodson, must go straight or lose his wife and child. His devil’s bargain? An internship at an LA advertising agency, where it turns out the rules of the street have simply been dressed in business casual, but where the aging company’s fortunes may well rest on their ability to attract a younger demographic. Dodson—”the hustler’s hustler”—just may be the right man for the job.

Ide is the crime writer’s crime writer, and he’s filled his best novel yet with desperate souls, courageous outcasts, an ex-stripper who’ll do anything to protect her son, and wild half-brothers who may be the very incarnation of evil.

With deft plotting, lacerating humor, and a keen eye for the ways in which characters rise or fall based on their ties to one another, Smoke is Joe Ide’s crowning achievement.


The fifth installment in the IQ series, Smoke by Joe Ide is a suspenseful yet busy mystery.

Isaiah “IQ” Quintabe has a target on his back so he hits the road in hopes of escaping just about everything in his life. He is an unlicensed private investigator who has been involved in more than his fair share of violence in recent years. He is suffering from PTSD and Isaiah is looking for peace and quiet. But Isaiah discovers that even in a quiet small town where he does not know anyone, he still manages to get mixed up in a dangerous situation. He has also managed to irritate Sheriff Cannon which makes him less credible when he tries to warn the sheriff trouble has arrived in town. Will IQ be able to prevent himself from helping Billy Sorensen, who has recently escaped from a psychiatric facility? And can they convince Billy’s friend Ava Bouchard to back off when they end up in a dangerous situation?

Meanwhile, back home, his friends are dealing with unexpected situations. Food truck owner Deronda is dealing with someone from her past who wants something from her that she holds dear. With Grace’s help, they brainstorm ideas to try to get this person out of her life once and for all. IQ’s former partner Juanell Dodson is keeping himself out of trouble when he agrees to give an internship at an advertising agency a try. His wife Cherise is the impetus for this latest turn in his life and she enlists her mother’s help getting him ready for the business world. Juanell’s street smarts prove to be invaluable as he discovers his hustling skills translate into unexpected creativity.

Although he knows ending their relationship as the right thing to do, Isaiah misses his now ex-girlfriend Grace. However, they rethink their decision and just as she is heading out to pay him a visit, things take a dangerous turn for IQ.  He continues to battle  his PTSD and severe anxiety as Billy and Ava bring unsettling news. Their efforts to convince Sheriff Cannon to take their news seriously fall on deaf ears. With the situation becoming increasingly dangerous, IQ will need to be able to think clearly and make quick decisions in order to protect himself, Billy and Ava.  Will Isaiah, Billy and Ava protect those they care about from the threats around them?

Smoke is an engrossing mystery with multiple story arcs that are quite interesting. IQ’s struggles with PTSD are realistic and his frustrations are believable. The various storylines are interesting and provide greater insight into the regular cast of characters. With plenty of nail-biting tension, Joe Ide brings this thrilling mystery to an action-packed conclusion. With the case wrapped up, the a cliffhanger conclusion on a personal note will leave old and new fans impatiently awaiting the next installment in the IQ series.

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Filed under Contemporary, IQ Series, Joe Ide, Mulholland Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Smoke, Suspense