November 2, 2016
Rated: Bordering on Bookmark it! / 3.5 stars
An L.A. resident brings justice to those who can’t find it through law enforcement but does it by skirting the law himself. When he runs into financial hardship, he realizes he must take on a new case brought to him by a former partner or else join the very world he fights against on a daily basis. Author Joe Ide illuminates the dark corners of crime, its victims, and its perpetrators in the sobering but ultimately successful novel IQ.
Isaiah Quintabe helps the helpless. He knows how it feels to reach a low point in life, a point that defines whether someone stays on the right side of the law or plunges into the murky waters of the criminal world. After losing his brother in a senseless accident, Isaiah spent a lot of time floundering in those waters. It took another life-altering accident to bring him back heaving and sputtering to the shore.
So now Isaiah, or IQ as some call him, spends his days searching for the people who have committed crimes. The crime doesn’t matter and neither does its scope. All that matters is that someone has wronged another person. Isaiah fights for the wronged and sets matters right.
The trouble is that setting matters right doesn’t always pay the bills very well. Most of Isaiah’s clients live in poverty or just above it. He accepts whatever they can give him: food; new tires for his car; even a pet chicken. He can feel their appreciation with every exhortation of it, but he also needs to keep a roof over his head. But serious cash only comes from paying clients.
Enter a former partner from a different life. Before Isaiah became IQ, he was part of the very criminal world he now fights. Isaiah doesn’t want to listen when a new case comes his way, but the dollar signs associated with it become hard to ignore. Someone has threatened a rap star’s life, and the rap star is willing to pay—and pay big—to find out who and to eliminate the threat. As Isaiah starts searching for the killer, he will face elements of his past life and must decide along the way whether the payday in the end really is worth it.
Author Joe Ide’s debut novel will take readers right to the heart of the crime scene in Los Angeles. Ide’s own experience of living in L.A. comes through loud and clear. No one will doubt the world he depicts because of the authenticity and expertise he exudes on every page.
After a quick scan of news headlights, Isaiah’s plight may sound somewhat familiar. At first glance some might even say his story borders on the cliché: an African American teen who engages with crime in order to make a living. But Ide manages to stay away from clichés where possible, which means the balance of the story reads with freshness. Readers are left with a book that will introduce them to a world almost certainly unlike their own in a way that will leave them thinking about it after they’re done reading.
Granted, the proliferation of profanity makes the book hard to read at times. By the same token, Ide stays true to his story world and the characters with his language choices. Accepting that makes it a little easier to get through the book and even finish it hoping that Ide isn’t done with Isaiah just yet.
The pace drags just a little bit in parts as Ide flashes back to Isaiah’s past, but readers will understand how necessary the flashbacks are to understanding just why Isaiah does what he does. I believe readers of crime fiction and thrillers will enjoy the book; for me IQ Borders on Bookmarking it!
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher after volunteering to write an honest, objective review.)