As I first started to read this book by Joe Ide it occurred to me that I don’t seem to read a lot of books with African American lead characters – particularly in my beloved crime fiction / thriller / suspense genre. And then I remembered James Patterson’s Alex Cross and Jeffery Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme. So… there are some. But not many. In my world anyway… where I mostly stick to the bigger publishers and mainstream fiction.
Isaiah Quintabe is something different though, and I was reminded of the work of Raymond Chandler and my love for Robert B Parker’s Spenser series. Needless to say I adored the sassy and smart Isaiah – better known to those who need him as IQ.
by Joe Ide
Published by Mulholland Books
on October 18th 2016
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 0316267724, 9780316267724
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence.
He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay.
This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.
Isaiah’s already ‘become’ IQ by the time we meet him. He has a reputation for helping the helpless and being a straight shooter. Metaphorically. And he’s a bit of a smart arse. But in a good way.
His IQ is off-the charts and we soon learn he was destined for great things until the death of his older brother (and carer) while IQ was still in school.
Juanell Dodson came into IQ’s life when Isaiah most needed the small-time crook’s money to pay rent and keep the foster care system at bay, but the pair haven’t seen each other for a long time. IQ’s again in need of some money though and Dodson’s client is offering the big bucks.
It took a while to get to the actual plot of this book, as Ide first leads us off in the direction of another case. It was an interesting approach, but a little disconcerting at the same time as – once that was resolved – it felt like the book was over before it began. I guess the idea was to give readers IQ’s measure though, because it’s then the plot involving Dodson’s client kicks off.
Ide slowly ekes out IQ’s past and his early life with Dodson; sharing what we need to know within the nick of time.
Ultimately the whodunnit was a bit predictable and there wasn’t a lot of analysis needed as Ide pretty much points us in the right direction from the beginning.
However the strength of this book (and Ide’s work) is Isaiah. He’s a great character – very complex, as is his relationship with those around him. He’s scary smart and an amazing problem solver, but not arrogant. He reminded me a little of Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X… minimally concerned about his own welfare and in possession of a strong conscience.
If I see this debut novel as akin to something by Robert B Parker or many of the other (short but sweet) gumshoe / PI whodunnits I’d say it’s spot on – and an improvement on similar books. But the quality and potential of Ide’s Isaiah suggests this series could develop into something more – given a stronger and more complex plot. And hopefully that’s something Ide will develop over time.
IQ by Joe Ide was published by Mulholland Books and is now available.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes.
I note that Joe Ide was inspired by his love for Sherlock and using one’s wit to solve crimes… something I too appreciate. Do you agree?