The case of a young artist’s missing mother sets IQ on a collision course with his own Moriarty.
Isaiah Quintabe — IQ for short — has never been more successful, or felt more alone. A series of high-profile wins in his hometown of East Long Beach have made him so notorious that he can hardly go to the corner store without being recognized. Dodson, once his sidekick, is now his full-fledged partner, hell-bent on giving IQ’s PI business some real legitimacy: a Facebook page, and IQ’s promise to stop accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleanings in exchange for PI services.
So when a young painter approaches IQ for help tracking down her missing mother, it’s not just the case Isaiah’s looking for, but the human connection. And when his new confidant turns out to be connected to a dangerous paramilitary operation, IQ falls victim to a threat even a genius can’t see coming.
Waiting for Isaiah around every corner is Seb, the Oxford-educated African gangster who was responsible for the death of his brother, Marcus. Only, this time, Isaiah’s not alone. Joined by a new love interest and his familiar band of accomplices, IQ is back — and the adventures are better than ever.
The third novel in Joe Ide’s acclaimed Isaiah Quintabe series. Another well-paced and engaging mystery, as IQ is hired to find an artist’s mother. Unbeknownst to him, however, some very shady, well-funded mercs are also after the mother. IQ is in for a very tough investigation…
In this third novel, Isaiah and Dodson have formed an “official” partnership, with Dodson trying to steer Isaiah towards a more traditional, paid career as a PI or fixer. Isaiah still struggles with it, though, so Dodson takes it upon himself to handle payment, terms, etc. Unfortunately, Dodson’s friend still has a habit of making impulsive decisions to work for unusual payment. In the case of Grace’s request, he accepts payment in the form of a painting. Their friendship is well written, and it’s fun to see them working together, as well as other people’s reactions to learning that they’re working together (although, Dodson’s not happy with the typical response).
Grace, the young painter in the synopsis, has been on Isaiah’s mind ever since he met her at TK’s junkyard in Righteous. Frustrated that his dog prefers her, he nevertheless jumps at the chance to help her when she asks for help in finding her mother. It’s a chance for him to get to know her — something he’s very bad at, especially following his experience with Sarita (see the previous novels). She’s an interesting character, and quite different from the usual people Isaiah hangs out with or knows. She’s got her own secrets, and is stubbornly withholding from Isaiah. They do become very close, though. She’s a great character, because she challenges Isaiah in various ways — he’s drawn to her, frustrated by her, slightly distrustful of her, but also determined to help (and not just because he’s attracted to her). She is also game for helping out: she throws herself into the case, and even helps Isaiah out with other things going on. (Like all of Ide’s IQ novels, there are a couple of smaller ongoing cases in addition to the main storyline.)
The stakes are raised in Wrecked, as Isaiah’s quest to find Grace’s mother faces some considerable, highly dangerous antagonists: a group of former-Abu Ghraib guards are also on Sarah’s trail. One of their number became a millionaire contractor for the US government, which gives them access to all the best tech, the ability to infringe on citizens’ privacy, and a whole lot of potential to make Isaiah’s life hell, not to mention anyone else who ends up involved in the case. Over the course of the novel, they exercise this potential quite freely.
One thing that stood out for me while reading Wrecked is the way Ide writes narration: it reflects the characters who are the subject of the scene. When the bad guys are the focus, for example, the metaphors and descriptions take on the character of the characters, if that makes sense? Apparently, this is a form of “free indirect discourse”. I think Ide is the first author I’ve really been able to notice this — in part because his antagonists tend to be quite awful, so it’s noticeable when the descriptions also become rather… well, awful, dismissive, sometimes racist.
Seb also returns: one of Isaiah’s long-time antagonists, introduced in the previous novel, he’s the man who murdered IQ’s brother, Marcus. A continuing thorn in Isaiah’s side, he manages to insert himself into the current case, meddling and making life difficult (and painful) for IQ and his compatriots. He’s a great, awful character.
With a nod to the Sherlock Holmes comparison, IQ has his own group of irregulars: a group of young prodigies looking for extracurricular intellectual stimulation and, perhaps, a bit of danger. They’re a fun addition, and they come through for him in Wrecked.
I like that Ide is writing a series that has various continuing threads — the novels aren’t just one-and-done, or purely case-of-the-week. It goes a long way to painting a fuller picture of Isaiah’s life, his environment and the people who come into and out of his orbit. Each novel, so far, has had its own individual mysteries and investigations too, of course, but I have also been enjoying these continuing threads. It helps us get to know Isaiah, what drives him better with each book. The same is also true for returning characters — good and bad.
Overall, then another very good novel in the series. I started reading the fourth novel, Hi Five, as soon as I finished this one (review soon). Definitely recommended to all fans of crime and mystery fiction, especially readers who like an unconventional protagonist.