Mulholland Books has just published IQ, a crackerjack debut mystery by Joe Ide. Our reviewer (below) said: "Mystery fans should hunt down IQ; Isaiah and his sidekick Dodson are a hilarious urban version of Holmes and Watson... the story is also gritty and tragic and melancholy, just like life where IQ lives." Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, lives in East Long Beach, Calif. He's fiercely intelligent, and takes care of problems in the neighborhood, for money or just a homemade casserole. Joe Ide's personal story is as eccentric as his protagonist's.
photo: Craig Takahashi
Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles in a depressed, primarily African American neighborhood. He "lived between cultures. Not white, not black, and about as Japanese as macaroni and cheese. As most of my friends were black, I unconsciously assumed their speech, musical tastes, style and attitude, but in the end I was never quite convincing as a black kid who happened to be Japanese. Nevertheless, the facade served me well. It gave a kid who felt he didn't belong a semblance of an identity; a way to face the world and not be afraid."
His first real job was teaching elementary school: "I belatedly discovered I didn't really like kids. I lasted one semester. In the ensuing years, I went from job to job, too restless to make anything a career. Through it all, I wanted to write." He worked on projects for most of the major studios, but none were ever made. "It became so frustrating and demoralizing I left the business. It was at that point I decided to write my debut novel, IQ. The main character is a high school dropout who isn't physically intimidating and doesn't fit in. He lives in a depressed neighborhood rife with crime and gangs. He also has a history of drifting from job to job, possesses Sherlockian powers of deduction and vanquishes his enemies with just intelligence. Go figure."
What I figure is that I can't wait for the next installment.