Review: IQ by Joe Ide

IQ by Joe Ide follows a resident of one of LA's toughest neighborhoods as he uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores. It is nominated for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

If someone had told me before I read this book that I was going to love it as much as I did, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Yeah, it really is that good. For author Joe Ide’s debut, this one hits it out of the ballpark. He has taken a very compelling and interesting main character and built an entire universe around him—and made it look easy.

The author bio explains that Ide was influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle’s great character Sherlock Holmes when he was younger, which definitely piqued my interest. But Ide doesn’t make a carbon copy here; instead, Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, is a very modern character—one who is almost tangible and certainly believable. He is known for his intelligence and his ability to deduce things from his environment:

It made no difference at all but he couldn’t help seeing what he saw. Things different or things not right or out of place or in place when they shouldn’t be or not in sync with the words that came with them.

This is very much like Sherlock, but it’s also done in a unique way. IQ won’t necessarily figure out a case immediately—and he does make mistakes sometimes—but I found this to be more believable, adding an element of realism to Isaiah. Also, the attention to detail is admirable, as the nuances of the rap world are laid out in such a way that is both fascinating and easy to follow.

When others hear about IQ's abilities by word of mouth, he starts getting lots of offers for help. An endearing aspect of IQ is that he doesn’t take traditional pay for his services, as most of his clients aren’t wealthy. Instead, he often accepts barters for given goods such as pies or a live chicken. This made me love him even more.

The stakes are raised when Isaiah’s longtime friend Dodson—whose previously sold drugs to make ends meet and now pushes jewelry—contacts Isaiah about a potential job. There’s a famous rapper, Cal, that somebody is trying to kill, and they need IQ to figure out who’s behind it and stop them before they can. This sends Isaiah and Dodson into the world of gigantic pit bulls and guns as they team up to solve the case.

“What are you looking for?” Dodson said. “We already know the dog and the dog man was here.”

“The dog man was wearing Crocs,” Isaiah said. “Those big goofy rubber things with holes in them? The brand name is imprinted in the sole, see it there?”

“What are all those?” Dodson said. There were dozens of cylindrical impressions about eighteen inches long, all of them facing the same way.

“One of those low beach chairs,” Isaiah said. “The dog man sat here watching the house.”

“Why didn’t he watch from out front?”

“Private security would have been on him. Nobody parks in the street.”

The book was written so that each chapter fluctuates between either the past or a more current year. This allows the reader to see exactly what happened to put Isaiah on this path in the first place and also gives backstory on Dodson and the boys’ relationship. Isaiah’s story, in particular, is a tragic one, and this causes the reader to empathize with him. I don’t often say this, but one of my favorite parts in this book is the prologue because it perfectly sets the stage for what Isaiah does and shows how he does it so well.

I hope that this isn’t the end of Isaiah’s story. I could see this being a series and continuing with endless possibilities for Isaiah to solve a new case in each one as we watch him grow. I highly recommend this read for anyone looking for a mystery/thriller/dip into the rap music scene—or all of the above.


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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter @akeller9.


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