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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.
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.

Winner of the Anthony, Macavity, and Shamus Awards

325 pages, Hardcover

First published October 18, 2016

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About the author

Joe Ide

9 books1,029 followers
Joe Ide is of Japanese American descent. He grew up in South Central Los Angeles, an economically depressed area with a largely black population. Gangs and street crime were rampant. Like a lot of kids, Joe wanted to belong and his speech, style, musical tastes and attitudes reflected the neighborhood.

His favorite books were the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories. That a person could make his way in the world and vanquish his enemies with just his intelligence fascinated him.

Eventually, he went on to university and received a graduate degree in education. He worked as a school teacher, a college lecturer, a corporate middle manager and director of an NGO that offered paralegal services and emergency shelter to abused women and children. He went on to write screenplays for a number of major studios but none of the projects came to fruition.

It was then he decided to write his debut novel, IQ, about an unlicensed, underground detective; a character inspired by his early experiences and love of Sherlock Holmes.

Joe lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife and Golden Retriever, Gusto.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,778 reviews
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
November 3, 2017
In Isaiah Quintabe (IQ), Joe Ide has created one of the most unique and entertaining protagonists to enter the world of crime fiction in a good long time. Left alone at an early age, Isaiah has a somewhat rocky start. But he pulls himself up by the proverbial bootstraps and becomes a brilliant investigator. Mostly he takes cases large and small in and around his L.A. neighborhood that the cops can't solve or simply can't be bothered with. Sometimes he gets paid in cash; sometimes he gets paid in pies or some such thing, and sometimes he doesn't get paid at all. But that's cool; Isaiah has a mission, and the only thing that really matters is that he fulfills it.

Outwardly, Isaiah doesn't make much of an initial impression. He's quiet and laid back, but underneath that exterior lurks a massive intelligence on the order of, say, Sherlock Holmes. Isaiah's sidekick is a diminutive guy named Dodson, who is prone to getting Isaiah into more trouble than the friendship may be worth, and it's Dodson who brings Isaiah the case that constitutes the bulk of the novel.

A rap star who's rapidly losing touch with reality and whose career is circling the drain, fears that he is the target of an assassination plot. He's hiding out in his garish mansion, surrounded by a circle of sycophants, and he wants Isaiah to figure out who's behind the plot and put a stop to it. His greedy manager just wants the rapper back in the studio, working on his new album, and would just as soon that Isaiah lie to his client to ease his concerns. Well, that's not going to happen, and the deeper Isaiah digs into the case, the more complicated and dangerous it becomes--especially when a one hundred and thirty-five pound killer dog enters the picture.

The novel switches back and forth between 2005 and 2013. The earlier chapters treat Isaiah's youth and detail the circumstances that led him to his path as an adult. The later chapters detail the current investigation. Isaiah himself is a very attractive and intriguing character, and the rest of the cast is brilliantly imagined. At points the book is very touching and at others it's hilariously funny. Ide strikes a very nice balance, emotionally, and the book is a terrific read. There's no mystery at all about the fact that it was nominated for virtually every honor in the crime fiction world, including the prestigious Edgar Award. I'm already looking forward to the sequel.
Profile Image for Meredith (Slowly Catching Up).
793 reviews12.4k followers
November 26, 2017
4.5 stars

IQ is a riveting read that offers a fresh take on the Sherlock Holmes character.

Having read a lot of formulaic, over-the-top, gimmicky books lately, I was feeling quite jaded -- to the point where I almost fell into a reading rut. Thankfully, I came across IQ! I devoured every moment of this refreshing, smart, and well-written book.

Joe Ide transforms Sherlock into Isaiah Quintabe (aka I.Q), a private detective who lives in the hood, has a pet chicken named Alejandro, and often receives payment from his clients in the form of blueberry muffins.

Extremely intelligent high school dropout, Isaiah Quintabe has a knack for seeing what others do not. His unique abilities enable him to help solve a myriad of problems for his neighbors in crime-ridden East Long Beach, including locating missing people, stopping a pedophile dead in his tracks, and determining who stole missing wedding presents, etc. While he might be great at what he does, he isn’t making much money as he tends to do these jobs as more of favors than for profit. However in need of cash, Isaiah reluctantly takes on the case of solving who put out a hit on a notorious rapper, uniting him with his high school roommate (long story), Dodson (who takes on the Watson role). This first installment in the series borrows from The Hound of Baskervilles.

The narrative alternates between the past and the present. Multiple POVs are shared, and I found Isaiah's to be the most compelling. Isaiah's character is multilayered and complex; I felt the depth of his pain and guilt over the death of his brother, and enjoyed his combative exchanges with Dodson.

I highly recommend IQ and will be reading the next book in the series, Righteous, asap!
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,819 followers
August 24, 2016
I received a free ARC of this from NetGalley.

There’s no shortage of Sherlocks these days. Both CBS’s Elementary and the BBC's Sherlock are doing fun modern day twists on Holmes. When Robert Downey Jr. can tear himself away from his duties as Iron Man he’s been known to play Sherlock as a steampunkish action hero in the movies. Plus, there always new novels featuring the detective being published. Countless other stories inspired by the character are also always circulating like the medical mysteries that Hugh Laurie solved for years on House. So you wouldn’t think that we need yet another variation of Sherlock Holmes.

Thankfully, Joe Ide disagreed and came up with a fresh new take on the world’s most famous consulting detective that is a helluva of a good story and a welcome addition to Sherlockian style books.

Isaiah Quintabe (a/k/a IQ) is a brilliant young man living in a rough area of Los Angeles where he acts as a kind of public service oriented detective for the community. Unfortunately, his services usually only net him baked goods, and Isaiah has a serious need for some cash. That’s when his old roommate Dodson shows up with the offer to figure out who tried to kill a famous rapper for a big payday. Dodson is a hustler that Isaiah doesn’t really trust, but he reluctantly takes the case. His only lead is a security video of a monstrous attack dog who was let loose on the rapper in his own kitchen, but the trail will lead him to a professional killer who loves his work.

The Sherlock influences are pretty obvious from the start. Isaiah is self-contained guy who can make instinctive leaps of logic based on what he observes whose persona can seem cold and off-putting to others. His partner on the case is Dodson which rhymes with Watson if you didn’t notice. There’s an oversized dog that immediately brings to mind The Hound of the Baskervilles. If that’s all there was then this could have been just a Holmes homage without much else going for it.

However, Ide prevents that by coming up with ways to play off the Sherlock tropes. Instead of Dodson being a kiss ass who marvels at IQ’s brilliance their relationship is a contentious one with a troubled history that we get in a parallel plot that also functions as Isaiah’s origin story. I also liked that IQ’s detective skills don’t come from having obscure knowledge like being able to identify the tobacco of Belgian cigarette. Instead he depends on his ability to reason through LA traffic patterns or researching police alarm times as well as applying a common sense rationality to the way people behave to make his deductions, and it comes across as impressive as well as realistic. The backstory of IQ’s life as well and his history with Dodson makes him far more sympathetic as well as giving him legitimate reasons for what he does than Sherlock ever had.

Aside from the Sherlock connections this is also a fast paced mystery/thriller in its own right. We get the hit man character’s perspective, and he’s also built up as being both a very dangerous threat as well as believable. The way that we’re introduced to IQ and Dodson and then get their backstory delivered in installments dovetails nicely with the main story. It’s all got a logical progression and a clever solution that is very satisfying.

Maybe best of all is that IQ is an interesting character that I want to spend more time getting to know. Hopefully, Joe Ide will again follow the example of Arthur Conan Doyle and give us many more stories with this fascinating detective.
Profile Image for carol..
1,535 reviews7,869 followers
October 28, 2017
About of a third of the way into IQ, I was strongly reminded of ‘Encyclopedia’ Brown, Boy Detective (real name: Leroy). IQ is on his latest case, a rapper whose life is threatened, and a giant dog had just entered the house through a dog door in an attempted attack. Why the very junior and white- bread Encyclopedia? Although they both have a reputation for intelligence beyond the norm, it may seem a stretch–-on page one of IQ, the reader is introduced to an incompetent but scary man stalking a young girl, most definitely not the sort of case one thinks of in connection with Encyclopedia Brown. But I think it comes down to their similarity in genuine goodness, faith in trying to be better, and honesty in IQ being exactly who he is. IQ operates around the law, in the spaces the law doesn’t have time to reach.

“Isaiah didn’t have a website, Facebook page, or a Twitter account but people found him anyway. His priority with local cases where the police could not or would not get involved. He had more work than he could handle but many of his clients paid for his services with the sweet potato pie or cleaning his yard or one brand new radial tire if they paid him at all.”

I.Q., born Isaiah Quintabe, needs a client that will pay him in something more than a chicken. His estranged friend, Dodson, comes to him with a payday client, a rapper who is afraid a hitman is after him. But does he really want a crazy client and a ‘partner’ whose only contribution is lines from Law & Order? As the situation develops, the story shifts from 2013 to 2005, a twist I didn’t expect, but ultimately enjoyed.

With the L.A. setting and prevalence of gangbangers and crime, it could have easily felt like a stereotype or a urban version of Sherlock Holmes. But Ide is able to avoid the easy tropes and give the reader an inside peek at how a young man survives and his complicated friendship with a man who walks a different path. I appreciated Ide avoiding the stereotype of the guy on the wrong side of the law trying to make right. The contrast between the larger-than-life rapper and the upbringing of IQ and Dodson is done well. I love the side characters as well:

“When Isaiah was in his teens, he worked for Harry Haldeman and wondered even then how the man could stay in a state of perpetual indignation; his fierce dark eyes glaring through the Coke-bottle bifocals resting on his great beak of a nose, his snow-white hair sticking up like a toilet brush.”

The style was entirely readable without being simplistic, and I had to pace myself so I wouldn’t devour in one night (sometimes, one likes to linger a little). Really, one of the better and more interesting books I’ve read, not to mention one of the ones that left me feeling quite satisfied. I’ll be hoping for more books about IQ.

Four and a half stars, rounding up because it's GR average is too low for a book this enjoyable.
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,602 reviews24.8k followers
January 14, 2021
This is a contemporary and edgy 'in the hood' reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes with its distinctive take on The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is set in East Long Beach, where the young black Isaiah Quintabe, IQ as he is known as, is Sherlock. His Watson is the criminal Dodson, selling drugs, involved in the LA gang culture, who sees the opportunity to criminally prosper, using IQ's exceptional talent. Their relationship is fraught and conflict ridden. They obviously have a past which did not end well. There are two time lines, one in 2006 which explains IQ's traumatic history, his relationship with Dodson, and his guilt over a tragic event which led to an estrangement with Dodson. In 2013, IQ is well known in the community for solving cases the LAPD have no interest in. The only problem is that his clientele are poor, so he often does not get paid, or gets paid in pies, tyres, chickens and the like and IQ needs a lot of cash in his search for redemption.

Isaiah's elder brother, Marcus, who expected great things from him that would benefit the community, is killed in a hit and run. A devastated and griefstricken Isaiah finds himself withdrawing from school, and tries to find the driver responsible for Marcus's death. This puts him in desperate financial straits, culminating in Dodson moving into his home. What follows is a descent into criminal activity that ends in tragedy and the beginning of his relationship with Flaco, who is obsessed with Margaret Cho. Dodson brings a rap star, Cal, as a client who is willing to pay megabucks if they can find out who is trying to murder him. A video shows a monstrously sized pitbull assassin dog aiming to kill Cal in his home. IQ and Dodson dig deep to see who has motive in wanting the drug dependent Cal dead and chasing down an insane hit man. There are a host of suspects that include Cal's ex-wife, Noelle and others close to him.

The dead Marcus serves as Isaiah's conscience, pushing him to return to his moral roots and acting as the spur to eventually rebuild his life after it became a car crash. IQ is our flawed Sherlock in the modern world, he is quirky, clever, and determined, and LA is the perfect setting for this novel and its hero with its strong sense of location. Joe Ide has created a character I adored and engaged with, wanting to know more about him. Ide pulls us into the story with IQ chasing a man who has nefarious plans with a young girl he has just abducted. It is a successful ploy because I was absolutely and instantly hooked. This is not a perfect book, but it is an impressive and unique crime debut that I loved. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,006 reviews36k followers
August 5, 2016
I was so immediately drawn into the dialogue with the characters, that I was feeling a little 'trashy' ....what the hell am I reading I asked myself? Right at the start there is a scene between a guy in a house ---( I didn't know who he was at the start) ---and a
seemingly slutty female throwing herself at him. The 'guy' was being the gentleman ---
but as I read the scene -I felt like I was in the same room with them. Something about the writing - from the get- go was so 'raw' so 'visual' and so 'present'....it almost didn't feel like I was reading at all. I was THERE! So?? If I was there... a part of this trashy scene, what does that make me?

3 words from the blurb convinced me to read this book.
"EAST LONG BEACH". I've walked all through Long Beach...nice neighborhoods and
run down areas. One of my closet friends lives there. Yet... I don't think I realized the ride I was in for! This book was better than I expected. I can see a TV series in front of me.

Isaiah Quintable is the full name for 'IQ'.....raised by his older brother, Marcus. Isaiah was raised to value education - (had all A's in school - with sights on Harvard), encouraged to 'do good' in the world. When a tragic accident kills Marcus, Isaiah needs to find a way to pay the bills, the rent on his apt., etc.
Isaiah is young black man - underage -when his brother dies, whose parents died when he was 10. He's now without any immediate family....but what he does have is
the great teachings of moral values that his older brother Marcus drummed into him.
Since Isaiah doesn't want to go into a foster care program at age 17....
he finds a room mate to move in with him to share the costs.
Juandell Dodson, smooth talker, drug dealing 'trouble guy' moves in.

No longer able to stay in school, but a very bright and focused, Isaiah
becomes an unlicensed investigator. He begins to build himself a decent reputation helping people with small crime. --but then foolishly Isaiah gets involved with helping Dodson solve a case for bigger bucks. They are looking for the person who is trying to kill Calvin Wright, ( rap idol called 'Black-the-Knife').

The mystery itself unfolds ...at times it's funny...other times I was just curious to know what was coming next....
But what I enjoyed the most, were the descriptions of the environment, the characters and the dialogue.

Here is a little excerpt along the Santa Monica Pier that I liked:

"The weather matched his shitty mood. The air was damp, the sky a washed out gray, the ocean dark and sluggish. There was a breeze but it wasn't strong enough to blow away the smell of grease, stale popcorn, french fries and hot dog water. The only decent thing out here was the old-fashioned merry-go-round. The rest was a bunch of stupid rides, fast food stands, kiosks, selling hats and keychains and a restaurant called Bubba Gump's from that boring movie about a retarded guy".

The story goes back and forth between 2005 and 2013.
I had the thought - ( could be just me) - that this entire story could have been told without pointing to back & forth dates. I'm not a writer, but I think I would have easily understood all parts of the story without the this type of structure.
Other than that....I enjoyed this book very much. I'd be interested to read IQ again in follow up novels!!!

4.5 stars

Thank You to Mulholland Books, Netgalley, and Joe Ide

Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,924 reviews10.6k followers
July 30, 2016
Someone is gunning for rapper Black the Knife and he hires Isaiah Quintabe to find the killer. Can IQ stop the killer and the people who hired him before Black the Knife takes the big dirt nap?

Mullholland denies me for everything on Netgalley so when they sent me an invitation to read this one, I almost passed out of spite. I'm glad I didn't.

IQ is the first mystery starring Isaiah Quintabe and I hope there are many more to come. IQ is a high school dropout who takes cases for whatever people can pay. This book tells two tales, the current case involving Black the Knife and another tale of how Isaiah came to be who he is.

I really got into the book's parallel structure. The twin tales of Isaiah, one in the present day and the other in the past, did a lot to get me behind IQ. IQ is like a young black Sherlock Holmes, although not as much of an asshole. He's got a lot of knowledge and inductive reasoning skills in his cranium but is far from behind a super hero. Dodson, his Watson, isn't a sycophant like Holmes' sidekick either. The two have an adversarial relationship at times and it does a lot to set this book apart from similar ones.

The writing is pretty slick, particularly in the dialogue. East Long Beach felt real to me and the dialogue reminded me of Elmore Leonard or George Pelecanos, authentic and readable. There was also a fair bit of comedy.

The villain of the present day case was fairly believable and more than a little scary. The way Isaiah and Dodson eventually handled things, again, didn't make them look like super heroes. By the end, who hired the hitman to kill Black the Knife was almost an afterthought. I sure didn't figure it out.

Isaiah's not the most sympathetic character until the story delves into his troubled past with his brother and Dodson. By the time the two stories dovetailed together, I knew I was hooked on the series for the long haul.

If you're looking to jump aboard a new detective series at the ground floor, IQ is a little different than most of the crime books on the racks. IQ reads like an episode of Sherlock written by George Pelecanos. Four out of five stars.

Profile Image for Adina ( On hiatus until next week) .
827 reviews3,231 followers
January 9, 2018
Sherlock Holmes from the Hood. Great idea, loved the dialogues, a couple of interesting characters, wobbly execution in some places.

Isaiah Quintabe (known as IQ) is a young man with an amazing intellect but with a semi-failed life as the author will reveal later. He is known in one of the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles as the person to go to if you need an investigation when the police can’t or won’t do anything. He helps everybody and usually does not receive much in exchange, sometimes only a pie will do. Our do-gooder is approached by a man from his past, Doson who asks him to find out who tried to kill a famous rapper. Although reluctant to accept the case, he will have to chance his opinion due to his not so pretty financial situation.

The novel presents two different stories, one of the tentative murder investigation and the other of Isaiah’s troubled history and the circumstances that made him become IQ.

In my opinion, the best part of this novel was the dialogue. It felt authentic and it introduced me into the tough life atmosphere. I also enjoyed the dynamic of the relationship between Isaiah and Dodson. However, there were some aspects that I did not like as much. I thought that IQ’s background story was too long and interrupted the flow of the main mystery. Moreover, the POV changed all the time from one character to another and it gave me the impression of sloppiness. As regards the culprit I guessed it almost from the beginning so the ending did not surprise me much.

I enjoyed reading this debut but I did not love it. as many of my friends did. It was a notable start of a series and the potential to become a long term success is definitely there.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews265 followers
November 12, 2017
When writing this review, my quandary is between writing about the book itself or writing about the story in the book “IQ” by Joe Ide. Perhaps I’ll try and do a little of both, problem solved.

All of the excellent hype about the book, such as “IQ” was the winner of The Private Eye Writers of America's “Shamus Award” for Best First Private Eye Novel, winner of the “Macavity Award” for Best First Novel, winner of the “Anthony Award “for Best First Novel, nominated for the “Edgar Award” the “Barry Award” and the “Strand Critics Award” for Best First Novel. Additionally the fact of “IQ” being written by a new author, his first book, got me interested.

The books main character, Isaiah Quintabe (IQ), is a poor yet self-made smart black guy, who lives in a ghetto neighborhood and operates out of Long Beach, California. He figures out problems for his neighbors (AKA clients) that the police decline to peruse. These clients have little or no money so they can only pay him with casseroles, broken toasters, and in one case a live chicken that becomes Isaiah’s pet. He desperately needs money in order to pay for his rent and food, and as luck would have it a famous Rapper need his help.

It becomes obvious that Mr. Ide’s previous job was a Hollywood screenwriter as the book’s narrative is quite visual and captivating, moving the story along at a brisk pace. The novel hops between Isaiah’s back story and current events, which nicely fill in many of the blanks.

If it is perhaps a good point in time for starting to read a new mystery series, “IQ” should fill all the requirements as I’m sure some enterprising network will turn the book(s) into a series. What one gets is a meld of Cumberbatch’s “Sherlock Holmes”, mixed with “The Wire” with a sprinkling of “Psych” shaken and stirred that leaves a pleasant taste in one’s soul.
Profile Image for Paula K .
420 reviews424 followers
January 9, 2018
What an absolutely fun book to read!

IQ is the nickname for Isaiah Quintabe who lives in a tough LA neighborhood. He is not sure what to do with his young life after his older brother Marcus is killed. Isaiah falls into helping people in his neighborhood and becomes the local unlicensed crime investigator. What’s neat about the unassuming IQ is the way he solves crimes with his superior intellect. I loved the way he tells off the tough guys throughout the book and their shock at being bested by the young man.

IQ has a sidekick named Dodson that brings such humor to the diolog that I burst out laughing on numerous occasions. Since I’m the serious type this isn’t something that happens too often.

I couldn’t put down this book and finished it in 2 days. I’m hooked and so looking forward to reading the 2nd book in the series.

Highly recommend.

5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,344 reviews4,865 followers
September 30, 2021

There's a new sleuth in the Los Angeles hood, and his nickname is IQ. This is perfect because IQ are Isaiah Quintabe's initials AND he's a brilliant consulting detective - along the lines of Sherlock Holmes.

Now in his mid-twenties, IQ had a life-changing experience in high school. Isaiah's beloved brother Marcus - who was raising him - got killed in a hit-and-run.....leaving the boy alone, bereft, and angry at the world.

Needing help to pay the rent, Isaiah let his gangbanger/drug dealer classmate, Juanell Dodson, move in - and the two boys embarked on a life of crime.

Isaiah devised a clever scheme to rob retail shops, and the youthful felons soon had a storage unit full of expensive dog medications; high-end fishing equipment; costly hair extensions; pricey bike parts; and so on.....which they slowly sold for cash.

The sluggish rate of return didn't suit Dodson - who was reckless and greedy - and the drug seller embarked on a lone crime that had horrific consequences.

Isaiah cut out after this incident, and - over the next few years - worked at a series of jobs that endowed him with an admirable skill set. This led IQ to become the neighborhood 'fixer', and he did things like locating a runaway minor; finding Kruggerands hidden by an Alzheimer's patient; retrieving stolen wedding gifts, etc. IQ sometimes got paid in chocolate chip cookies or the like, but - for clients who could pay - Isaiah charged real money.....and made a modest living from his vocation.

Now, shady Juanell Dodson is back, and he wants IQ to take on a high-paying job. Rapper Calvin Knight, called 'Black the Knife', thinks someone is out to kill him.

Cal is is scheduled to record a new album, but is too frightened to go to the studio.....and remains holed up in his luxurious Los Angeles mansion. Cal is willing to pay $50,000 to discover who wants him dead, and Dodson figures he'll help Isaiah solve the case and share the fee.

Cal's entourage - manager Anthony and bodyguards Charles and Bug.....as well as music executive Bobby Grimes - depend on Cal for their income.

These tagalongs push the rapper to return to work but Cal - who was recently attacked by a vicious 130-pound pit bull in his own house - digs in his heels, takes a slew of drugs, and devolves into a hot mess.

When IQ and Dodson show up at Cal's home, the rapper's retinue makes it clear they have no use for Isaiah's sleuthing. But the detective studies the CCTV tape of the dog attack - and examines the mansion grounds - and reaches a conclusion about the hitman. Isaiah and Dodson then set out to find the killer and discover who hired him.

Things get very dangerous at this point because the hitman, named Skip, is a sociopath who has formidable skills with guns and dogs.

Moreover, there's a traitor in Cal's inner circle - an 'inside man' who's feeding Skip information.

Additional characters include: Deronda - a young woman who's looking for a sugar daddy; Noelle - Cal's hateful ex-wife; Harry - an elderly dog breeder and canine expert; Flaco - a brain-damaged young man; Junior - a vicious drug dealer; and more.

The book alternates between 2006 - when Isaiah and Dodson were juvenile delinquents and 2013 - when IQ and Dodson are investigating Cal's case. We also learn something about the backgrounds of IQ and Skip.....which helps explain their motivations.

"IQ" is a page-turner that's exciting AND funny. I love that gangsta Dodson is a great cook who wants to be an 'Iron Chef'; that IQ buys Flaco a lifesize cutout of Margaret Cho - his favorite comic; and that IQ easily holds his own against arrogant blowhard Bobby Grimes.

This is a great start to a new series, highly recommended to mystery fans.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews807 followers
December 23, 2022
As research for a novel I'm going to write, I'm reading detective fiction and stealing everything of value. My story takes place in L.A. of the early '90s, but I'm sampling every item in the buffet like I was visiting the MGM Grand before the pandemic. Published in 2016, IQ is my introduction to Joe Ide. All I knew was that his amateur sleuth "IQ" was from East Long Beach and renowned for powers of deductive reasoning. There are many versions of that book yet after a promising start, I was hugely disappointed to watch this one veering into cartoon territory. I abandoned it at 36%. I have reasons why.

1. Joke writing takes root and chokes the story like a weed. Ide reminded me of Carl Hiaasen, whose comic novels set in Florida seem to go for the outrageous and completely ridiculous, until you read the latest news from Florida and realize that Hiaasen showed restraint in documenting his turf. Similarly, Ide seems to have watched TMZ or E! Entertainment Network for inspiration and decided to write in a slap-happy style that would make the excesses of Southern California almost part-time believable. This is joke writing, which will delight some, but isn't for me. Examples:

1A. There's a girl named Deronda, the only female character introduced for a dozen male characters, who was crowned Miss Big Meaty Burger, of Big Meaty Burgers, in Culver City.

1B. There's a hit man who proves to his new partner--but really to the reader--what a lethal weapon psychopath he is by shooting a corn dog out of a young girl's hand at long range.

1C. Characters actually use, in dialogue, the word "hitman." Yep, we're in cartoon territory here.

1D. Pages are devoted to IQ obtaining a lifesize cardboard cutout of Margaret Cho to deliver to a mentally disabled friend of his. Is that a commentary on Cho's fanbase? Is the cardboard cutout relevant to the mystery? Is Ide out to prove how much a subscription to Entertainment Weekly is worth? I didn't finish the book to find out.

2. The client is a rapper. Usually, when a writer rolls out a fake rapper, I get the distinct feeling they're hip hop haters. Ide's fake rapper, Black the Knife, is a commentary on the pageantry of being a rapper. Black the Knife is there to provide some jokes (the entourage, the excess, the goofy tracks). This material is so over the top that a reader of any grade level can glance at the page and cackle, "This rap lifestyle sure is stupid!"

3. Supporting characters much dumber than, not smarter than, the protagonist. I had a similar issue with Rachel Howzell Hall's series starter Land of Shadows . Hall comes to the page like a college instructor compared to Ide, at the back of the class sticking pencils up his nose. IQ has a buddy named Juanell Dodson, a ghetto entrepreneur we've all seen before who in addition to having an unfortunately bland name, insists on partnering with IQ on his case, running off at the mouth and acting like a clown. He's revealed to be something of a culinary wizard, which is refreshing, but Ide surrounds IQ with way too many characters lacking in brain cells. The effect it has is making IQ look like his IQ is lower than advertised.

4. Flashbacks. Thanks for taking me out what story you were trying to develop, author. I didn't feel I needed to jump back in time to learn how IQ lost his family (if you're guessing "car accident," you're right on the money) or how he met his buddy. There are always exceptions, of course, but flashbacks often seem to me more for the author to break things up and stay engaged in the task of writing the novel than they are for as treats for the reader. I wanted to skip over the flashbacks here.

5. At 36%, Ide hadn't made it clear to me what IQ wanted. Why should I continue reading? Why should I care? It seems that anyone as smart as IQ would deduce what a clown act Dodson was and what a complete waste his abilities would be on the rapper's case. Why doesn't he bail for a more interesting story? The quickest answer is that Ide wouldn't have exhausted all his jokes yet. Instead, my patience was exhausted.

6. Racially, this novel occupies a weird place. I can see Ide not wanting to use race or skin color to describe a character, to let the reader get to know that character as a person. But on the other hand, his story is set in East Long Beach and among a rapper's entourage. These clearly aren't White guys, or else Ide would state that: White guy or guys growing up in a Black neighborhood being unique. His choice struck me as "I don't see color" which is horseshit for those of us whose vision is unimpaired. If these are Black or Brown guys, it should be safe for the author to acknowledge that, and advisable to offer more than a popcorn kernel of truth about what life is like day-to-day in their neighborhood.

7. Sexually, the shortage of women in a novel that introduces so many characters (the rapper + entourage = 5) was a big disappointment. I didn't expect a romance and if IQ is a bachelor who prefers his own company, he wouldn't need a love interest introduced either. When it seems like fourteen out of sixteen characters the author introduces are male, not only is that excluding half the population, worse, it's monotonous. I'd have the same problem in a story where it seems like men have been scrubbed from the world overnight.

To summarize, IQ might be best for readers looking an L.A. mystery with more irreverence or jokes than a James M. Cain or Michael Connelly offers in their densely layered novels. This is reality TV and whipped cream, two hugely addictive and successful products, but not ones I'd recommend consuming in heavy quantities. I feel myself getting more intelligent reading Cain or Connelly, or other L.A. based authors like Dorothy Hughes or Janet Fitch. Here, I felt myself being dumbed down to, which has to be considered a failure for a novel titled IQ.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,447 reviews7,538 followers
January 26, 2018
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“You lucky you got skills, son, ‘cause if you had to survive on your personality you’d be working at the morgue with dead people.”

Remember pretty much every single year last year when it was #oscarssowhite? Books like this serve as a reminder that #literaturesowhite. I.Q. is definitely not a new tale, it’s a twist on something old – Sherlock Holmes in the ‘hood, if you will. However, that little spin is all it took to make everything old seem new again. Well, that and some serious storytelling ability by Joe Ide.

The story here is of “I.Q.” . . .

“Isaiah Quintabe is unlicensed and undaground.”

I.Q. has a bit of a gift . . .

“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.”

I.Q. has turned this ability into a livelihood. This story focuses on his most recent case . . . .

“The client is Black the Knife … He was in that Nelly, Ludacris, Mystikal, Busta Rhymes generation. He got the houses, the cars, clothing line, his own brand of tequila, his own cologne … Black the Knife’s real name is Calvin Wright. Grew up in Inglewood over by Hollywood Park. Ran with the Damu Bloods before he got into the game. Anthony said somebody tried to cap him at his crib, almost got him too.”

There’s the summary in a nutshell. Someone wants Black the Knife dead and I.Q. will get paid $50K if he can figure out who. When you crack it open you get monster-sized pitbulls and crazed hired assassins and a posse of hangers-on and a jilted ex-wife – a whole slew of potential suspects. In addition, there’s a sort of dual storyline (something that generally annoys me) that explains exactly how I.Q. came to be I.Q. making it like two amazing books in one. Bonus!

4.5 Stars because this was excellent. Rounded up to a full 5 for Dodson . . . .

Dodson might end up as my favorite character in 2018.

Book #5 in the library Winter Reading Challenge. THE MUG WILL BE MINE and I’ll be picking it up after work.

Profile Image for William.
675 reviews324 followers
September 11, 2017
Top marks. Must read. Completely delicious!

A fabulous journey into Tarantino-esque dialog and characters, a bling noir, a poor black's Sherlock and money-driven, a'hole Watson, a completely guilty pleasure.

The two main threads of the story: 2005 -Isaiah after a terrible loss, slowly bonding/hating Dodson, and 2013 - the bling noir of them "working together" to solve the mystery.

Both threads worked well for me, the first is a flashback, tragic, inevitably sad and somewhat desperate, and the second more like a Sherlockian mystery, but with a "knownledge base" suited to the hoods of modern L.A.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale all the way through, but I must admit the first half of the book had better pacing and fun.

Top marks. Must read.
Profile Image for Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ .
796 reviews584 followers
February 1, 2018
I read this book as it was in the Book Pool for the BLK Group - & for me it was a most unsatisfying read.

It wasn't that it wasn't my usual sort of read - part of the reason I do the Book Pool is to go out of my comfort zone & try something new.

The main problem for me was that it was one of my most hated book structures - going back & forth (for no good reason) between two time periods. In comments on a completely different book's review, another Goodreads member called this book style a Ping Pong book. I can remember a different reviewer getting frustrated with the structure of another Ping Pong book & reading each time period chronologically. I wish I had done that with this book. Maybe I would have understood what was going on. Or not. I think the structure was an attempt to hide a few massive plot holes.

I can't wait for this style to go out of fashion.

There was one good (& very touching relationship) between Isaiah & his now deceased brother Marcus. There was one genuinely thrilling scene with Isaiah, his friend(?) Dodson the rest of the book was a hot mess. Ide has a gift for dialogue & evoking a sense of place, but he needs to work on his plotting & not try to disguise the aimlessness of a book with a structure that made this reader work too hard.

Tell me a story, engage me, but don't make me work so hard & leave me feeling empty, frustrated & annoyed at the end.

I feel like I wasted a week of reading time.

Profile Image for Liz.
2,021 reviews2,525 followers
July 4, 2018

Those who know me know I love a good detective or police procedural. But it’s so hard to come up with a unique perspective. But Joe Ide has done it. Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is an “unlicensed detective”, someone who takes on the crimes the police ignore. He lives in East Long Beach, and his clientele are generally poor. He charges each according to their ability to pay. To make ends meet, he looks for a high charge job and finds it with rapper Black the Knife.

The hit man is a really interesting character. Normally, I’m drawn to those who are dog fanatics. But not here. This guy pissed me off more than anything. I wanted to take a cattle prod to him.

This is a wonderfully unique mystery. The characters are fully developed. Dodson is just spot on perfect. I was so engrossed in this book, there were parts were I was twitching and turning as the tension rose.

Yes, I correctly guessed who was behind the crime but I didn’t have the reason right.

I listened to this and while I really enjoyed him, the narrator here has a soft spoken voice that doesn’t work well when riding in a car. I found I had to keep turning up the volume in order to hear him. But he truly does capture all the emotions and different voices. So much so, I was disappointed I had already bought the second in the series as a book and wouldn’t be listening to it.

This is one of my best of 2018. Five big stars!

Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews318 followers
September 5, 2017
I’ve made it a goal to read more from writers off the beaten path and especially more books with male lead characters as it seems, to me at least, that about 80% of what I read is written from a female perspective by women. Well, let me just say that this book is far out of this girl’s range and what a tremendously entertaining read it was!

This isn’t a traditional detective story, for one it’s rather hilarious and for another, it’s an inner-city homage to Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. These two facts alone make for a starkly modern story, but what sets it apart even further from the traditional genre is that our main character solves crimes as a form of redemption and it is the glimpses into his origin story that portray the serious issues the book takes on.

The author has pointed out that ‘…there are ways an entertaining novel can contribute to the common good. Violence can be portrayed but not glorified. Vicious characters don’t have to be cool. Kindness and ethical behavior can be virtues instead of vulnerabilities. Intelligence can triumph over guns. Cruelty, misogyny, drug use, violence, sociopathic tendencies don’t have to be celebrated. And I believe he has done just that in this novel.

I give this high marks for originality and storytelling with a lovable detective hero and fast-paced action. It came as no surprise to me when I read that Mr. Ide has worked as a screenwriter as his ear for dialogue and the scenes he creates vibrate in full Technicolor brilliance. Perhaps because he grew up in South Central LA and knows the territory well he is able to deliver what feels like an authentic representation of these streetwise characters all the while showing them empathy. This had one of the most heart-warming epilogues I’ve read in recent years and endeared me to these characters and this author all the more.

A big thank you to Paromjit for putting it on my radar and Taryn P. for edging it up the reading list. I'm already looking forward to the next two installments in this series and I highly recommend this to fans of detective fiction who enjoy a bit of a different flavor.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,027 reviews58.9k followers
December 10, 2021
IQ by Joe Ide is a 2016 Mulholland publication.

Isaiah Quintabe- aka -IQ- an orphan who recently lost in his brother, Marcus, is trying to find a way to survive on his own, in East Long Beach. Looking for the person who killed his brother, leads him into a private detective/ amateur sleuth role. While he’s lenient with payment methods, he really needs customers who can pay in cash, which leads him to, Calvin, a rapper known as ‘Black the Knife’, experiencing a serious decline, who was the recent target of attempted murder.

Isaiah’s investigation leads him to a crazy hitman, a greedy ex-wife, and a group of manipulators and connivers, all with a stake in the success or failure of the star rapper…

This is an offbeat crime drama, gritty, realistic, but polished and stylish at the same time. IQ is a sympathetic character surrounded by people with little to no conscience or remorse. Isaiah is inspired by the great Sherlock Holmes- relying on ‘inductive’ reasoning to puzzle out the truth.

Despite the setting and premise, the language is the only thing too graphic- but it is in context. The violence is kept to a minimum, with our hero using his wits to outsmart the bad guys. By the time the story ends, Isaiah has come to terms with the reality of his situation, and just might be able to carve out a niche for himself as a private investigator of sorts enabling him to survive and take care of the unwitting victims, he feels responsible for.

I picked this book up when it started to generate a little buzz back in 2016. Unfortunately, it ended up languishing on my Kindle, despite my best intentions.

As the book is encroaching on my five- year deadline, I realized I’d better get this one read before it winds up on the chopping block.

Thankfully, it lived up to its reputation and I have already queued up the second installment!!

4 stars
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,051 reviews577 followers
January 14, 2018
Isaiah Quintabe is a bright lad deserving, it seems, of his nickname IQ. Set in South Central Los Angeles (the same turf in which the author spent his formative years) the story picks him up in his mid twenties operating as a private eye, taking on small cases the police aren’t interested in. He’s getting by, but only just. The action alternates with events that occurred during Isaiah’s teenage years and we learn that in these early years an incident occurred that was to have a significant impact on him. Conversations are largely conducted in gangsta speak and are often hilarious. There’s loads of swearing but despite there being serious undertones to this tale the conversations and commentary are consistently snappy and quick-witted.

When I need to hear from you, big boy, I’ll wave a ham sandwich

Bobby looked like he’d opened his safe and found a head of cabbage

It’s clear the character of IQ is based on Sherlock Holmes: he’s an observer of detail and spots things others might think insignificant, extrapolating information gleaned to form ideas and theories. And in this tale one of the lead characters is a massive Pit Bull Terrier – echoes of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

I really enjoyed this one. I did figure out whodunit but not why he did it, but then I’m never too fussed about this aspect. For me its all about the characters, their interactions and the flow of the narrative and all of these are handled pretty well. Well done Mr Ide, I’ll be back for the second instalment sometime soon.
Profile Image for Josh.
1,636 reviews148 followers
March 15, 2018
Few novels are able to capture the reader's attention and maintain a firm grip all the way through - IQ is one of those few; from the opening stanza I was hooked.

IQ (Isaiah Quintabe) is a modern day Sherlock Holmes but comes across more grounded and 'real'. He's a young guy getting by on the kindness of his neighbors who supplement his 'free-lance detecting' with food and other means, all useful but rarely result in a payday. When IQ's longtime acquaintance Dodson, a guy on the fringe of the underworld brings IQ a case worth 20k to find out who is trying to kill a rap mogul, IQ, while skeptical, agrees, after all, who couldn't use that kind of cash?

What follows is a past and presence tense narrative switching between the rap mogul mystery and IQ as kid growing up without parents and trying to live-up to the high standards his deceased older brother held him by - there's also a large portion of backstory dedicated to the 'bond' IQ has with Dodson which adds another layer to the story.

Author Joe Ide does a great job at balancing humor and violence while ensuring his characters have enough page time to grow and develop into well rounded people who read 'real'. The narrator of the audiobook, Sullivan Jones captures the essence of the novel and further exemplifies the storytelling.

My rating: 5/5, IQ is awesome.
Profile Image for Cindy Burnett (Thoughts from a Page).
565 reviews979 followers
October 29, 2017
I somehow missed this book when it first came out. I am a firm believer that a cover can make or break a book, and this cover is fabulous. I would not have picked it up if the cover had not caught my eye. I.Q. was a ton of fun to read. Joe Ide’s fabulous sense of humor shines through the pages of his debut novel, and he has created a memorable and unique protagonist in Isaiah Quintabe (I.Q.). I enjoyed the mystery at issue and the colorful characters. My one quibble was that there was too much time spent on the back story – several times I skimmed through those sections to get back to the main story line. Hopefully, the second in the series, Righteous, will focus more on the present since I.Q.’s story was exhaustively detailed in this book. I look forward to reading it soon.
Profile Image for Petra.
814 reviews77 followers
December 7, 2016
IQ is Isaiah Quintabe, and yes, Isaiah is intelligent. He is very observant and assiduous but he is also a troubled young man. Having lost his parents at the age of 10, he has been raised by his older brother, Marcus, in a rough neighborhood in East L.A. But then Isaiah looses Marcus, whom he idolized, too. Desperate to stay out of the system, he starts associating with Juandell Dodson, a persuasive thug and petty criminal. Due to his analytical skills and some word of mouth referrals, IQ manages to build himself quite a reputation as a private investigator. Juandell talks him into accepting the case of a wealthy rapper, Calvin Wright also known as Black The Knife, who fears his life is in danger after having endured the most unusual attack I've come across in a thriller in a long time.
In IQ, Joe Ide managed to create a fresh, new voice in a market that is sometimes rather sated with the same old detective types. I really liked IQ. He is lovable and complex.
However, I would have enjoyed this more if the story had been better structured. It moves between 2005 introducing the reader to IQ's background and his history with Dodson and 2013 covering the case of the rapper they are now investigating. I would just get into one story line and then it would change to something completely different making it frustratingly disjointed at times. There was a chapter right towards the end of the book, which I felt would have made a lot more sense towards the beginning. Apart from the structure, the writing itself was super. You got a great sense of the setting and the people, and the dialogue was just brilliant. There was a lot of witty humor that I enjoyed. The language is explicit and if you're easily offended you may not like this as much as I did. This is Joe Ide's debut novel which was inspired by his early experiences of growing up in South Central Los Angeles and his love of Sherlock Holmes. I think there's huge potential, and I look forward to reading more about IQ in the future.
I was offered a copy of this via NetGalley, for which I am really grateful, but I ended up listening to the audiobook narrated by Sullivan Jones. It definitely enhanced my enjoyment of this book. Mr. Jones is an outstanding narrator. First thing after finishing this, I had to check whether he had narrated other books. Unfortunately, he hasn't.
Overall, as far as detective stories go, this is one of the most original books I've read in a while. It could have been better, but as a debut and for being so different, I think it deserves 4 stars.
If you are torn between reading or listening, hearing Sullivan Jones bring these distinctive characters to life and hearing their dialogue out loud is so worth it! 5 stars for the narration!
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,721 reviews462 followers
February 9, 2017
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I liked this one. I didn't love it but I liked it well enough. I did seem to take me a little longer to read this book than it usually would and I think that a big reason was that this was a book that was easy for me to set aside. I am really not sure why this story didn't completely hook me but the fact is it just didn't grab me like I wanted. In the end, I found it to be a book that I am glad that I read.

This book really told two stories set in two different timelines. I liked the stories that were set in both of the timelines well enough but it did seem to flip back and forth a lot. Isaiah, or IQ, is at the center of both timelines. He isn't a detective or anything official but he has a reputation for being able to solve mysteries. He takes on the case of a rap star whose has found himself in danger which takes him in a lot of exciting directions. The second timeline is set in the past during Isaiah's teenage years when he was learning to get by without the family support he was used to.

I didn't feel any real connection to any of the characters. I liked Isaiah but was just starting to feel like we were getting to know him as the story came to an end. I do think that the jumping back and forth in time made it a little harder for me to really feel a connection with the characters. It seemed like as soon as I was starting to get a little hooked on one story, I would turn the page and the book would switch to the other time period.

This book did a lot of things well. I thought the actual mystery was nicely plotted. I had a really hard time even coming close to guessing who might actually be responsible for the threat against the rapper. The way that the dogs were used in the story was really very interesting and completely original. I did like the way that Isaiah reasoned through problems.

I would recommend this book to mystery fans. Isaiah is an interesting problem solver that I think will appeal to a lot of readers.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Mulholland Books via NetGalley.

Initial Thoughts
I liked this one but I found it a little too easy to set aside. No real complaints but it didn't capture my attention like I would have hoped.
Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,133 reviews432 followers
May 7, 2023
3.5 Stars

I love the idea of a high school dropout who has a genius IQ as well as a strong moral compass and a drive to help his community out. This is nitty gritty, set deep within the disadvantaged, where crime and violence and gang wars are everyday occurrences.

Though this easily kept my attention, I wanted to see more deductive reasoning and brilliance. Isaiah’s a very interesting hero with an understanded confidence. It doesn’t hurt that one of the most intriguing things about this book/series is the fascinatingly complex and twisted relationship between him and frenemy Dodson. Just when you question the logic behind their long standing association, the ending was remarkably poignant. Again, a promising start and a desire for more!

Profile Image for Taryn.
1,206 reviews188 followers
October 20, 2016
After finishing the last page of IQ, I immediately looked to see if Joe Ide is working on a follow-up. No news yet (that I could find anyway), but after an Epilogue like that, if there isn’t a second book coming there’s no justice in the world.

I was blown away by the quality of this one, especially so considering it’s Ide’s debut. His author bio mentions his fascination with Sherlock Holmes stories when he was a kid, and the connections between those classic detective stories and the book he’s chosen to write are clear. Except Ide’s detective, Isaiah Quintabe, grew up in East Long Beach and isn’t really the earflap hat and tobacco pipe type. What he is is deeply principled and a master of inductive reasoning.

I’m not much for series, whether it’s books or TV, but if you want to make me a loyal fan for life, give me a detective character who is this compelling. IQ is quiet, thoughtful, but not shy, not afraid of his tough surroundings. He won’t be bullied or intimidated. He is measured and careful, but he also carries a reserve of rage just under the surface, and very, very occasionally, it boils over. He also has a back story that I can’t WAIT to see further explored in future installments.

When I do get really into a crime series, I’m not showing up because I can’t wait to see what the next case will be. I’m in it because I’m invested in the detective and want to see how their character arc develops, and IQ is the kind of character an author could get a lot of mileage out of. Other favorites include Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole book series, the Longmire TV series on Netflix (I’m almost afraid to read the books because the show is that good, I know, what kind of reader am I?), and an oldie but goodie, Kyra Sedgwick as The Closer. Her giant handbags inspired me to proudly carry my own oversize suitcase-purse to work.

So yes, sign me up for the official IQ fan club. I’m hooked.

With regards to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for the advance copy. On sale now!

More book recommendations by me at www.readingwithhippos.com
Profile Image for Sandy.
873 reviews218 followers
October 4, 2016
You might think Isaiah Quintabe’s nickname was just a case of convenient initials. He’s a young guy living in a run down part of Long Beach & spends his days trying to make ends meet while he dodges various gangs.

After years of dead end jobs, Isaiah found his calling one night in the laundry room. Over fluffing & folding, a neighbour told him how her daughter’s wedding gifts were stolen. It didn’t sit right with Isaiah & after a few questions & a little snooping, the gifts were returned. The bride was so thrilled, she baked him cookies (her mother warned against actually ingesting them). It was just a favour for a poor family but the mother told 2 people, then they told 2 people…..

IQ is born. Or rather, he’s discovered. Isaiah has always been freakishly smart & his brother Marcus was determined he go to university. Then Marcus died & IQ’s world fell apart. Now he lives alone (with pet chicken Alejandro) & investigates cases the cops won’t touch.

Baked goods are all well & fine but IQ needs work that will pay with some actual cash. It’s not initially clear why but he’s taken over responsibility for a brain damaged teen named Flaco who will soon be released from hospital & rehab is expensive.

So when old friend Dodson calls with a money maker, IQ reluctantly accepts. It seems someone tried to kill Calvin “Black the Knife” Wright, a wealthy rap star living in the area & the weapon of choice was a tad unconventional. But all IQ can see is the means to provide a secure future for Flaco.

And so begins his walk on the wild side, surrounded by Calvin’s hanger-ons, slimy agents & one very creative hit man.

This is a well paced, atmospheric & thinking man’s thriller featuring an original MC. Two stories unfold in alternate chapters. In those from the past we learn about IQ’s childhood with Marcus, his history with Dodson, their part in the “war” & how he ended up with Flaco. In the present we follow him as he tries to figure out who’s got it in for Calvin, a man who never met a pharmaceutical he didn’t like.

There’s a smorgasbord of suspects, a fair number of whom have more in common with weasels than humans. The author does a great job of creating images of neighbourhoods full of crumbling buildings, unemployment, violence & hopelessness.

But everything revolves around IQ. In some ways he’s older than his years because of all he’s been through. But his brilliance & desire for solitude set him apart in a place where you could be killed for wearing the wrong colours. During some scenes I wanted to shake him while in others, he broke my heart. He’s like a modern incarnation of Sherlock Holmes if, you know, Holmes grew up in the hood. And had a pet chicken.

Easily one of the most original & different books I’ve read this year. Hopefully there’s another to follow.
Profile Image for Truman32.
344 reviews99 followers
November 15, 2016
Note: the events that happen in this review are absolutely, 100% true. Cross my heart.

So it was Wednesday night, that means my weekly knitting group had taken over the living room. As the guys and I arranged our yarn and sharpened our knitting needles, we discussed the Joe Ide’s debut mystery, IQ.

“Everyone who reads IQ will be clamoring for the next book, and the one after that. This is one of the most appealing-detective characters to come along in years,” Carl Hiaasen (author of Strip Tease and Hoot) raved. He was working on a matching striped bonnet and mitten set. The man loved knitting baby clothes with the reckless abandon of a much younger author.

“Joe Ide is the best new writer I’ve encountered in recent years, “ John Sandford (author of the popular Prey novels) boomed as he entered the room with a steaming pot of queso dip. “IQ is a terrific book with an unexpected story.” Nobody was looking forward to Sandford’s dip. The guy thought he was some kind of queso savant and was always adding strange ingredients to the mix. Last time I swear there were Cheerios and something that resembled dog food kibble in the bubbling yellow mass.

“Joe Ide’s IQ is a wondrous double helix of mean-street savvy entwined with classical detection,” interjected Stephen Hunter (author of Sniper’s Honor). This character, Hunter, was always trying to sound smart, using expressions like: this is a double helix. Last week he said, “oh, John Sandford, your dip is a double helix of zesty Mexican flair entwined with breakfast cereal.” However, the man could knit. Can’t take that from him. His scarf with the snowmen was coming along beautifully. Someone was going to get a nice Christmas gift.

Wait, what? You think I’m making all this stuff up? You’re suggesting that maybe I have just taken the blurbs from the back cover and am now using them as a review? That my knitting group really only consists of my elderly neighbors, the Goldbergs, and lonely Harvey Winklestein who mumbles to himself all the time and that we actually meet on Tuesdays? How dare you!

I’ll have you know everything here is true. As is the fact that IQ is a fun, rollicking mystery featuring an appealing lead—Isaiah Quintabe. In the mold of Sherlock Holmes and that guy from the television show Psych, Isaiah (nicknamed IQ) uses his super evolved senses of observation to solve mysteries and help out the people in his neighborhood. His skills for finding the answers that others can not has increased his reputation and he has now been hired by a famous rapper to discover who is trying to kill him.

The inner city take on the Sherlock-type of mystery is interesting and Ide can really write. The pages fly by and the supporting cast jumps to life in vibrant color. I think Michael Harvey (author of the wonderful Brighton) said it best when he walked into the living room this evening holding the purple scarf he was kitting. “Is it too much to say this debut reminds me an awful lot of Elmore Leonard?” he asked touching his bare chest. “No, it’s not too much. Joe Ide’s novel is that good.” And it is that good. Though, I do wish Harvey would just keep his shirt on. The man is so proud of the work he puts in at the gym that he uses any occasion to remove his upper garments.

Profile Image for Antigone.
500 reviews741 followers
September 19, 2019
His name is Isaiah Quintabe, nicknamed "IQ" - though this has less to do with his initials than it does his sharp and ever-factoring mind. Known on the mean streets of East Long Beach as a kid who can solve a problem, he is sought out by those in the neighborhood who have failed to receive the assistance they require from the police. This is not a lucrative employment. He is frequently paid in food or services, whatever a client's poverty will bear, which keeps Isaiah in a state of financial vulnerability and forces him, on occasion, to take up cases it would be smarter to avoid.

Such is the trouble brought to him by an old foe. Seems someone's put out a hit on a famous, and famously reclusive, rap artist. Said artist has an album due and needs the threat neutralized so he can travel to the studio and lay down his tracks. Cooperation is pretty slim; between the muscle, the music execs, and the vengeful ex-wife, there are far too many competing agendas to count on a solid assist. Not to mention the hired gun who continues to lurk on the periphery. Oh, the money may be right but it doesn't take an intellect of Isaiah's caliber to determine the whole thing stinks.

Ide tosses a lot of balls into the air, possibly a few too many. The tale cleaves in two early on: the past, which provides Isaiah's history and motivation, and the present of the dangerous case. These threads operate in tandem throughout, making our ramp up to climax trickier than it has to be. But I will give him this, he depicts his protagonist's intelligence beautifully. Not an easy thing. As any voracious reader can attest, a character's cleverness can only reach the level of his author's. Joe Ide, as it turns out, is a pretty savvy guy.

I'll be interested to see where he takes this.
Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews322 followers
April 10, 2017
4.5 Stars

Aside from the promise of a hard-boiled (i.e. 'bustin' a cap in yo ass') Sherlock Holmes-y novel set in East Long Beach (mi cantón, or my home town, in hood-speak), I pretty much had zero expectations for Joe Ide's debut IQ and just wanted to take a vicarious stroll through through one of the seminal birthplaces of 'gangsta rap'.

That Snoop Dogg, Biggie and Tupac vibe pervades throughout, though not exactly through the eponymous protag "IQ" (aka Isaiah Quintabe), a rather apt moniker for a street- and book-smart high school dropout/"underground detective". We learn through a cleverly interwoven back story of Isaiah, smack-dab in the hood, of his life in the periphery of thuggery, and how he'd come around from a reluctant life of crime to a Sherlock-for-hire career path (often paid little more than a home-cooked meal or rims for his hoopty by neighbors foresaken or ignored by the police to get the crimes perpetrated against them adjudicated).

Isaiah (along with his unreliable, somewhat more "thuggy" associate Dodson) finally land an investigative "cash case" when their intuitive skillz are enlisted by the posse of famed rapper "Black Tha Knife" who they suspect someone's put out a contract hit to murder him via (oddly, or perhaps, appropriately enough, given the vicious pets' omnipresence in the gangsta world:) a ginormous pit bull. The search for the perpetrators takes the duo far out of the 'hood, criscrossing greater Los Angeles to the nouveau riche enclaves of the San Fernando Valley to the heart of the Mojave Desert, to the lairs of some truly badass freaks.

If all this sounds a bit ludicrous (if even Ludacris) well: despite some silliness sprinkled throughout to amp the levity factor (like some MacGyver-esque hijinks to catch a child abductor; or Isaiah's payment-for-a-solved-case-turned-pet-chicken-named-Alejandro; or a strange guest appearance from comedian Margaret Cho) this is some pretty bleak terrain Mr. Ide's traversing, when gang wars mow combatants (and innocents) at the drop of an insult (or a tricked-out automatic Sig Sauer with a thirty round clip.) The levity is desperately needed to balance out the gritty (sometimes gruesomely bloody) realism.

And, damn this "IQ" guy. He's a quiet, seething ball of anger. He's flawed as hell, but it's truly fascinating watching his gears spin. I'm not really a big fan of series novels, but I'd love to see where Ide takes this totally unique hood-Sherlock next. Recommended.
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753 reviews372 followers
August 22, 2019
This was better then I was expecting! 3.5 stars!

You know what’s great about book clubs and group reads? They introduce you to books that are not on your radar or you wouldn't have thought to read.

IQ was one of those books and was a book club selection.

I have not read a book by Joe Ide and thought this was a decent, first book in a series. I really liked the character of Isaiah Quintabe as the main character. Isaiah’s nickname is IQ and he’s like a real life Sherlock living in the bad part of Long Beach.

Isaiah’s neighborhood is the ghetto and due to this circumstance, he can’t figure out how to get out or make a difference. He’s stuck emotionally and financially which the book will get into. He’s brilliant and can see the clues that make it easy to solve any case or problem. The neighborhood loves him but most in the neighborhood can't pay him decent wages for helping them solve their problems.

Isaiah is low on funds and gets a case from a famous rapper, Calvin Wright or known as Black the Knife. He’s got a contract out on his life and has no idea who’s trying to kill him. IQ takes on the case but it gets much more complicated then he expects due to an ex-wife, music contracts to old crew that can’t stand Calvin. Plus, Calvin is losing his shit!

IQ goes from present to past chapters in regards to the ongoing case and how Isaiah got into the helpless situation that’s his life now. I’m glad Joe Ide presented IQ this way because you become more involved in his life and generally start to really like the guy. I'm definitely cheering him on and will continue with the IQ series in the future.

Recommended to fans of crime detective series and mysteries.
This book does have lots of profanity, racial slurs and questionable characters in it. I didn’t mind though for it felt more real to the setting and gangs that live in Long Beach and East LA. West side!
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