IQ by Joe Ide: A review

I recently read a review of Joe Ide's (pronounced ee-day) just published new entry in this series and was intrigued by it. I wanted to read it, but the reviewer cautioned me that I really needed to start with the first book and read them in the order published. Rats!

Well, the good news is that I don't have to go back to 1984 and read thirty books in order to get to the one I actually wanted to read. No, the first book, IQ, was published just two years ago and the latest one is the third in the series. It seemed doable. And that's how I came to be introduced to Isaiah Quintabe - IQ.

Isaiah is an African-American man from one of Los Angeles' toughest neighborhoods. He lost both of his parents when he was quite young and he was raised by an older brother, Marcus, whom he idolized. 

Marcus was a jack-of-all-trades and a young man of great integrity and a high moral standard and he set about teaching all of that to his younger brother. Isaiah was a prodigy, possessed of a remarkable intelligence and reasoning ability, and Marcus devoted himself to making sure that his brother had a chance to get the best education and a chance to succeed in life.

The future was full of promise for both brothers. Then, when Isaiah was sixteen, they were out walking and Marcus started to cross a street when he was mowed down by a hit and run driver. He died on the pavement in front of Isaiah's shocked eyes.

So, at sixteen, Isaiah had to figure out how to make it on his own. It took some time but he arrived at a strategy which involved quitting school, taking multiple low-paying jobs, and taking in a roommate to help pay the rent.

That roommate is Dobson, who makes his living dealing drugs, but at least he keeps the drugs far separate from his living space and he turns out to be a neat housekeeper and a pretty good cook! Things are looking up.

When money gets tight for Isaiah, he and Dobson turn to a career in burglary which eventually goes all wrong and entails long term consequences and obligations for both their lives.

The part of the novel I've just described takes place in 2005. The action of the novel switches back and forth between 2005 and 2013. By the later date, Isaiah has recognized his calling in life which is to be a sort of latter-day Sherlock Holmes, helping people by solving their mysteries for them. In payment, he receives whatever his client can afford, often payment in kind with services or goods.

But finally he needs a good paying job because he needs some money to meet one of those obligations I mentioned. Dobson introduces him to a rapper who is being threatened and believes his estranged wife is behind it. He wants an investigator to prove it and he's willing to pay big bucks for the work.

Isaiah agrees to take the job which leads him into conflict with some real lowlifes, not to mention a giant and vicious pit bull and a lunatic professional hit man. The case gets more and more complicated the further he gets into it and he wonders if he'll ever be able to solve it. More urgently, will he come out of it alive?

Joe Ide has created an appealing character in Isaiah and has given him an interesting and complicated backstory. Moreover, he's a character who seems to have room for growth and, even more importantly, an ability to grow. I think he may be able spin a lengthy and successful series from those ingredients.

As for the plot of this one, well, it kept my interest, although I felt it drag a bit at times. But not a bad first effort. I think it's worth three-and-a-half stars but, generous soul that I am, I'll give it four.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars    


  1. Sounds good. I hope subsequent books get better. You're right that there is potential in a character with street smarts. I don't know about his roommate though. Good thing he can cook! ;-)

    1. Yes, it definitely has potential and Dobson actually shows a more gentle and empathetic side before this first book ends, so he may develop into a worthy sidekick for IQ.

  2. Well, first review by a reader I know. I have been interested in this writer. Thanks for your analysis.

    1. I'm actually pretty excited about this series. It has a lot of promise, I think. And Michael Connelly may actually run out of gas one of these years!


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