by Joe Ide
IQ is a novel about Isaiah, a very intelligent, young black man destined for greatness. Unfortunately, he is sidetracked by a series of events, some of his own doing, but mostly outside of his control. Through the deaths of family members he is left to fend for himself, finding his way through an urban jungle. Operating on both sides of the law and seeing the devastating consequences of gangs and crime, Isaiah devotes himself to solving cases pro bono to help others and occasionally to make money to support a special crime victim.
The characters in IQ are well-developed, especially Isaiah and his crime and investigative partner Dodson. The plot is developed almost as two separate stories which are in fact inseparable. The main focus, the mystery, is a rap singer who has a contract out on his life. He hires Isaiah to find out who is trying to kill him. The other story, which is just as important, goes back in time and shares Isaiah’s journey from child being raised by his older brother to independent detective. That road was neither easy nor pretty. The back and forth in time could be confusing, but it is not. The chapters are not only numbered, but also titled and, most importantly, dated.
Usually repetitive bad language causes me to dislike a book. I find IQ to be an exception. When inappropriate language is not needed, it is not used. When the story is centered around the black gangsta, rapper culture, swearing and cussing are appropriate for the characters. If they sounded like preachers, the story would lose authenticity. Joe Ide, the author, is a good wordsmith. I could feel this: “Isaiah and Dodson hadn’t spoke the whole way over, the tension like a stranger in the car.”
The plot has many twists and turns that kept me interested for the duration. Isaiah is a complicated, resourceful character and I find him to be likable. I was rooting for a successful resolution to the mystery and to Isaiah’s struggles. You’ll want to read this book yourself to see if either is achieved.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Mulholland Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.