Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: IQ

IQ IQ by Joe Ide
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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 young man 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.

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