Writer and his detective hail from South Central Los Angeles

The familiar saying “timing is everything” certainly applied for a recent library book club session.  On Thursday, Nov. 9, the mystery book club at South County Library met and discussed the novel IQ by Joe Ide— the same morning that a radio story about the author and his book series aired.   National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” carried the broadcast segment about the author Ide who created a unique, young detective. 

Suffice it to say, the book club host listened to the radio story and later provided it for the book club, sharing the audio portion read by the reporter.   

Ide’s new detective is named Isaiah Quintabe, or nicknamed IQ, and he works as an unlicensed private investigator.  Isaiah is a South Central Los Angeles high school dropout who, nevertheless, excelled academically at school.  The novel traces Isaiah’s progression from student to detective when he accepts a case where a successful rapper is threatened with death and a large payday awaits if he can keep his client safe.   Throughout this venture he pairs with a colorful, former roommate Dodson, who offers to help in the case for a slice of the job’s sizable payment.

This award-winning mystery novel sizzles with gritty character dialog and well-placed humor.  The writer’s sharp ear for dialog raised the question during the radio interview, how did the writer’s characters’ conversations appear so natural for the community?  Ide’s characters are primarily black while he is Japanese-American.  The answer is simple in that Ide’s youth was spent in that community where Isaiah lives, so he concedes he would act to blend in with his peers.  Ide said he and his two brothers would try act like African-Americans, but “we never fooled anybody.”