Isaiah Quintabe and older brother Marcus are African-American youths living in a rough neighborhood in LA. Marcus is the bread winner for the family, and things are going well for the brothers when Marcus is killed in a tragic hit-and-run. The accident happens in front of Isaiah, but in spite of his presence as a witness, he doesn’t see anything of value that helps police track down his brother’s killer. Now, without his brother’s income, Isaiah is desperate for a roommate to help pay his rent. Enter Dodson–an idea man who likes to spend money. Dodson is helpful with paying the bills, at first, and then cash becomes harder to find. While Isaiah and Dodson struggle with their cash flow problem, Isaiah struggles with his inability to find his brother’s killer. He devotes himself to learning to make meaningful observations with the thought that somehow, he still might find out who killed his brother. Isaiah’s observations help solve some of their financial woes, and new type of Sherlock Holmes is born.

When an attempt is made on the life of a big name rapper, Dodson has the right connection to put Isaiah on the case. If Isaiah can figure out who is behind the murder attempt, both Dodson and Isaiah stand to score some big bucks. The case is an odd one, though, and might be difficult to solve. Who attempts to murder someone by using an attack dog as a weapon?

IQ tells two stories at the same time as it alternates between events in Isaiah’s past and events in present day. Isaiah is a fresh, engaging character. He’s smart, and yet makes some interesting life choices due to his circumstances. I also liked Dodson, who always has thoughts on his next big cash score. The way the story unfolds, and the way each character has his or her own quirks really reminded me of an Elmore Leonard. The dialogue in the book is superb, again reminding me of Mr. Leonard’s work. Joe Ide is of Japanese-American descent, and grew up in LA himself. His novel reflects his knowledge of the area, and adds some wonderful depth to the work.

Annette G.