Joe Ide’s IQ series is a gritty throwback to hardboiled mysteries of yesterday, but don’t let that make you think it’s old fashioned. Ide does a lot to push his franchise into the present, which makes it feel bold in a category that is frequently not as diverse as it would like you to think it is.
IQ is Isaiah, a high school dropout with a staggering intellect. Isaiah serves cases and people the police routinely ignore in the neighborhood of East Long Beach, accepting whatever payment they can offer in return. But IQ doesn’t follow one of those cases–this is one of those cases Isaiah takes in order to pay the bills.
The mystery isn’t actually all that interesting, and neither are the relentless flashbacks to how Isaiah dropped out of high school and opened his practice. To me, the parallel timelines was an unnecessary structure that made things overly convoluted, leaving them to blur together. The opening sequence, in which Isaiah chases down a killer and shoots his boat with a grenade launcher before he can escape, also felt so wildly implausible to me that it was difficult to take the rest of the book seriously.
What is interesting is Isaiah himself. In the style of great detectives, he’s smart, moral, and complicated enough to hold the reader’s interest. I’m not sure that’s enough for me to go on to the sequel and beyond, but it’s certainly something.