Introducing Isaiah Quintabe
A resident of one of LA’s toughest neighborhoods uses his blistering intellect to solve the crimes the LAPD ignores.
East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood’s high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can’t or won’t touch.
They call him IQ. He’s a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he’s forced to take on clients that can pay.
This time, it’s a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.
I’m very late to this series, much to my shame. IQ introduces a fascinating and engaging new character into the LA crime genre, and offers something a little different to most other ongoing crime series. I really enjoyed this series debut, and it’s easy to see why it’s become so popular.
IQ is clearly intended to be the first in a series: it is as much about Isaiah’s past and ‘origin story’ as it is the investigation he’s called in to conduct. The investigation is pretty interesting, and Isaiah’s atypical approach and observations mean this novel feels very fresh and intriguing. He’s highly observant and has a great capacity for deduction (which explains the frequent Sherlock Holmes comparison this series receives). Isaiah is quite different from many the other genre protagonists I’ve read. The opening scenes of the novel give us a pretty clear introduction to just how different he is from standard or typical protagonists in crime novels: there’s a car and boat chase, some unexpected ordinance, and great writing.
I enjoyed learning about his unorthodox journey to becoming the neighbourhood’s investigator, how a tragedy from his youth derailed his fast-track academic life and sent him into a spiral of depression — clawing his way out only gradually. Our picture of Isaiah and those around him are gradually expanded, giving more detail and explanation as the story progresses. You learn how fiercely loyal and good Isaiah is — often quietly so, doing his good deeds behind the scenes and without the beneficiaries knowing about them. Unlike many cop protagonists, though, he has more leeway to stretch the rules, and is often forced to come up with pretty innovative solutions.
If you’re a fan of crime fiction, and LA-based crime fiction in particular, then I think you’ll definitely find this novel a rewarding read. It’s interesting, twisty, often amusing, and engaging throughout. I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series (currently, there are three more novels available), and intend to get caught up ASAP.