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.