IQ by Joe Ide
This is Joe Ide’s first novel, and it’s a doozy.
He is inspired by that old braniac Sherlock Holmes, who famously solved problems just by thinking. Ide lives in Southern California, which is not quite Victorian England, but still has lots of problems to solve, and plenty of call for a Sherlock.
The protagonist is Isaiah Quintabe, AKA IQ, a young man living in East LA. His life is plenty messy and tragic, and with thing and another, he sinks into a deep depression, drops out of high school, and spins out into crazy and risky choices that have even more tragic consequences.
But Isaiah breaks out of his depression, and rededicated to helping out and lifting up his neighborhood in the ways he is best at, takes up a new life.. He solves problems, kind of like a PI, but without a license. Isaiah is really smart. And he’s the straightest arrow you’re likely to meet in all of LA, and definitely not fooled or intimidated easily.
Like Holmes, IQ finds solutions through reasoning and research. Also like Holmes, he has his own Watson (in the form of his pal Dodson). In retrospect, the answers he comes up with often seems obvious, amazing, or both—just like the Victorian Holmes.
In this book, we learn about his past and early cases, as well as the many interesting folks in his neighborhood. I can’t say if this is “authentic” LA culture, but it certainly is the way I imagine it—filled with a lot of decent people, trying to make a go of it in the face of crime and violence.
In the story, IQ is called upon to help protect a flaking out multi-platinum Rap Star from a weird death plot. It’s hard to have sympathy for the excesses of a mega celebrity, but its important to learn the truth and try to protect the client, however nutty.
I can’t say the plot makes a lot of sense, but I guess you wouldn’t need Sherlock Holmes or IQ if it were a simple case. In the end, IQ unravels the scheme, and faces down an extremely dangerous killer, and generally saves the day for everybody.
IQ is really neat, and I’d love to meet him. I hope we might get some more stories about him in the future.
If Ide would like a suggestion, I’d love to see some “young adult” stories about IQ—he’s such a great character that teens will identify with. Keep the danger, the characters, the ‘hood, crime, drugs, and even the hard language. Tone down the graphic violence and other tough stuff. Not baby stuff, but less detailed.
- Joe Ide, IQ New York, Mulholland Books, 2016.
Sunday Book Reviews