The Blurb On The Back:
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, OAPs are getting hoodwinked, children are missing. But word has spread: if you’ve got a case the police can’t or won’t touch, Isaiah Quintabe will help you out.
The Review (Cut For Spoilers):
It’s July 2013. Isaiah Quintabe works as a private detective in Long Beach, Los Angeles but while he’s got a lot of cases from clients who can pay in muffins or other barter, he’s looking for a big pay day to help a friend get out of hospital and into his own place. Unfortunately the only job on offer comes from an old acquaintance, Dodson, who Isaiah has too much history with to trust again and who insists on taking a big cut of the final pay. But beggars can’t be choosers and so Dodson puts him in touch with the rapper Calvin Wright (aka Black the Knife) who thinks his ex-wife has hired a hit man to kill him. The only problem is that Calvin’s entourage and record manager want Isaiah to tell Calvin whatever it takes to get him back into the studio and record his new album, even if he has to die doing it …
Joe Ide’s debut crime novel (the first in a series) is a slickly written story with whip snapping dialogue, interesting main characters who are more frenemies than allies and a tremendous sense of location and although it was too easy to guess the culprit and their motive there’s a lot of potential here – especially because of Isaiah’s back story – and as such I will definitely check out the sequel.
Although the marketing blurb refers to SHERLOCK as an influence (and Isaiah’s character has a lot in common with the rebooted detective, including a genius IQ and a refusal to engage in social niceties) the better allusion is perhaps to COLUMBO as Ide cleverly has chapters from the point of view of his perpetrators, which I really enjoyed because it gave the book more of a battle of wits feel to it and there’s a lot of fun to be had in seeing how Isaiah puts together the connections to make his deductions. What really makes the book though is Isaiah’s relationship with the smooth-talking, morally ambiguous Dodson and I thoroughly enjoyed the flashback chapters that sets out how the two became frenemies – not least because Dodson’s amoral attitude contrasts with Isaiah’s desire to mete out justice and Ide makes the dialogue between the two crackle with energy and wit.
I liked the fact that Ide has his unlikely detective duo ply their trade among the poorer suburbs of LA, bringing them into contact with gang bangers and drug lords along with people just trying to make an honest buck and it’s great to read a book populated with a predominantly African American and Latino cast.
My only criticism of the book was that I guessed who the perpetrator was far too early (and their motive) but while that would usually be a deal breaker for me, there is so much more going on this book (including the potential for an ongoing arc involving Isaiah’s dead brother) that I will definitely check out the sequel.
IQ was released in the United Kingdom on 10th August 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.