This is Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, with another Book Byte. Today I’d like to tell you about a mystery series that features one of the more memorable murderous conundrums: how do you kill a disillusioned rapper who won’t leave his house? A rapper who’s burned all his jewelry and listens to self-help tapes exclusively? One of the answers—which doesn’t end up working—is apparently a humungous Pitbull named Goliath. Let me tell you: this isn’t even the most outlandish thing in Joe Ide’s winning first mystery, IQ. The book crackles, buzzing with outsize characters and hilarious dialogue on every page. But below it all hums a sense of tragedy that keeps it grounded. It’s one of the most engaging and original mystery series to launch in recent years.
Joe Ide’s protagonist is Isaiah Quintanabe, aka IQ. He lives in a Long Beach overrun with gangs and drugs. As an adult, IQ is awkward but intelligent, living quietly and simply in small surroundings. He’s gained a reputation as a neighborhood crime solver, finding solutions to small mysteries in exchange for money sometimes, but occasionally for baked goods too. His Sherlockian intellect makes him a razor-sharp sleuth, and he’s soon drawn into a larger case. Enter Black the Knife, the house-bound rapper. Black the Knife, aka Cal, is pretty sure someone is trying to kill him, and he thinks it’s probably his ex-wife. The case, of course, ends up spinning far beyond the disheartened housebound rapper and the pit bull rampaging after him.