IQ by Joe Ide

IQ by Joe Ide
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.

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.
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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 Quintabe might be a high school drop out but is far from your average young man living in LA. Incredibly smart, he’s slowly getting a reputation for helping solve problems of other locals in his neighborhood where the police can’t – or won’t – help them. With his latest case – one he only took because money is incredibly tight right now – has Isaiah taken on more than even he can handle?

This is a completely new-to-me author and the first in his IQ series. I picked this up on a whim and within the first few chapters had decided to order the second book in the series. Other reviews bill this as “a different Sherlockian style of character” and in many senses they are correct. Deduction and piecing together all the small hints and suggestions most of us ignore in day-to-day life is a big part of how IQ solves problems and pieces together the various puzzles and problems that he helps out in. He also has a somewhat arrogant and difficult manner – much like Sherlock – but to simply cut this story down to “another Sherlock style of mystery” is really doing the book an injustice.

Isaiah is not some one in a million genius born perfect and solving crimes from a tender young age. One thing I loved about this story was it SHOWS us how Isaiah trained himself to notice all the small things and how to make the deductions he becomes known for. This wasn’t some magical talent he was born with – he used his brain and trained himself over and over to learn and gain this talent. He EARNED it. I found that so refreshing and amazing. At first I was a bit annoyed at how the author jumps between two time settings – 2013 where the story is in “the present” and back to 2005 where Isaiah’s brother was killed in a tragic hit and run accident. Isaiah’s world – as he knew it – crumbled and this is where he turned his big brain and incredible intelligence into doing more than just winning math awards and thinking about college. It took me a while, but I realized so much of who Isaiah is in the present grows from his grief and the life-altering course of his brother’s death that both these storylines needed to be told and the story moves far better – even though I still find it somewhat jolting – for weaving the two times together as we learn and unearth more and more of who Isaiah is.

I am also wiling to cut a bit of slack to the writer since this is their first book. Isaiah is an engaging and interesting character, and the world and his cases are engrossing. I have to be honest though I do find the writing just a little bit choppy and had the story or Isaiah’s characters not been so excellent I might not have persevered. I’m very glad I did though as the plot is refreshing and seeing how Isaiah grows into the young man he is makes the trip well worthwhile.

Readers looking for a deduction style story (yes, Sherlockian but oh so much more than just that) with realistic and memorable characters and more than a few twisty plots all seamlessly coming together this is an excellent mystery to try. Be prepared to want the second book on hand immediately after you finish the first. While the story doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger there’s more than a few clues as to where the second book is aimed and the epilogue is like a giant, neon, blinking “We are moving here” sign and there is no doubt what is in store for the next book. I’m very glad I gave this series a shot and am eagerly looking forward to sinking into the second story.

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