IQ BY JOE IDE

1:18:00 AM

My 2018 reading challenge: a thriller set in LA.




IQ: promises a mix of Carl Hiaasen, Michael Connoly, and Conon Doyle; now that is a way to sell a book to me! But what about they follow through? Those are some big shoes to fill. Unlike lots of other blurbs that are just marketing IQ by Joe Ide is precisely that, and lots more.
Like Hiaasen Ide creates memorable and wacky characters, they're not as outlandish as Hiaasen's—leave that up to the man up in Florida, but they're as authentic. Now Hiaasen's villains and sketchy investigators are not only full-on crazy men and women, but they are also well-rounded characters, even if they walk with a weed wacker for an arm, they have wants, needs, and dreams. Like every character in IQ. And Ide creates a memorable and I'm sure durable protagonist. Isaiah Quintabe is incredibly smart, irritating everyone around him in South Central LA where he grows up. Only his brother Marcus edges him on to use that brilliant mind of his, and to let the people around him benefit from it. But when Marcus dies in a hit-and-run, Isaiah understandably loses his way and finds himself falling into a disastrous room mate situation and partnership with Juanell Dodson, a fellow high school drop-out. Dodson is the kind of cliche guy you would expect in a book set in South LA, a guy who's only option is a career slinging dope. Dodson is always looking for a way to make a buck and when he sees how smart his new roommate is, the dollars signs start to flash neon green in front of his eyes.
Isaiah is lost, depressed, and broke, so he doesn't care if he is deviating from the path his brother intended him to take. He tried to find the person who sped away after killing Marcus, but when that doesn't pan out, he willingly concocts a plan for him and Dodson to start pulling heists. They start small, robbing pet shops and hair salons. Soon, Dodson girlfriend moves in, and the couple pushes Isaiah further into a collision that spells mayhem for the entire hood.
The story in IQ has a different timeline, too. Eight years later Isaiah reluctantly has to reconnect with Dodson. It is clear something awful happened between the two of them. Still, Isaiah has to make bank and Dodson knows a music producer who will pay big bucks to find who's making death threats against his most prominent star, a depressed doped up rapper named Calvin Wright, a.k.a. Black the Knife.
First, nobody believes Cal and that the threats are real. Then a 130lb pit bull breaks into Cal's house and almost ends him. Isaiah is on the case, locating pit bulls, dealing with vengeful ex-girlfriends, hangers-on, and one insane puppy loving hitman.
Now the LA setting is not the only thing Ide has in common with Michael Connoly. Connoly's style is seamless, one of the most challenging and underestimated things to do as a writer. Like Connoly Joe Ide is an excellent writer; the dialogue is fresh, the story flows, and his descriptions jump out of nowhere to knock you out.
Ide was inspired by Conon Dolyle, so he created his own Holmes and Watson, IQ is the first book in the series, the origin story, where tells the tale how Isaiah became IQ. And well Dobson was always Watson. It's heartfelt, funny, truthful, and the setting is convincing ( Ide himself grew up in South Central) and unique for a detective story.
I love that there was a whole chapter dedicated to dogs, and the plan to steal cases of Frontline is a masterstroke, man, that stuff is expensive! This is one of the first books this year I enormously enjoyed, the end slayed me, and I am thrilled to start the next one. Righteous for sure.

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