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Hi Five: An IQ Novel

Review

Hi Five: An IQ Novel

HI FIVE is the fourth installment in Joe Ide’s extremely clever and original IQ series. The “IQ” of the piece is Isaiah Quintabe, an unlicensed Long Beach private investigator and wrong-righter who struggles to obtain justice for the downtrodden on the streets of Los Angeles --- peacefully if he can and otherwise if he must. The premise of this latest entry is superior to that of its predecessors, while its execution is something less than that. It is still worth reading, though, due to the quirkiness and originality of Ide’s characters.

Things get rolling fairly quickly in HI FIVE when the stalwart owner-operator of a neighborhood market is caught in the crossfire of a gang beef. The shooting and its tragic aftermath is a secondary but important plot line here. The primary story involves another crime. Angus Byrne, an aging thug who is the biggest arms dealer on the West Coast, would like Isaiah to investigate a murder for him. Isaiah wants nothing at all to do with Byrne, but he has no choice. Byrne threatens to permanently maim Isaiah’s girlfriend if he doesn’t go along.

"HI FIVE is well worth reading for Ide’s command of language.... Isaiah also continues to be one of the more distinctive characters in contemporary detective fiction..."

The investigation is very personal to Byrne, as his daughter Christiana has been accused of killing Tyler Barnes, his most valued employee. Christiana, the owner-operator of a fashion boutique, was present when the murder occurred and was the sole witness. The problem for Christiana, and for Isaiah by extension, is that she has multiple personalities, which include that of a punk band drummer, a seductress and an organizer/planner. All of these personalities saw part of what happened, but none of them saw all of it, so the accounts that are given seem to contradict each other.

Meanwhile, law enforcement builds its case, and Christiana’s arrest appears imminent. Byrne grows impatient; he does not want his daughter to go to prison. The real doers --- a nightmarish pair of amoral lovers on the run --- have their sights set on a new target, while Isaiah attempts to keep an extremely powerful and dangerous illegal firearm from getting into the wrong (or any) hands. He receives some assistance from a couple of unexpected places, but it may not be enough to keep him and his loved ones out of trouble.

Ide arguably juggles a few too many flaming chainsaws in the air as far as plots are concerned. This situation is created in large part by the primary plot device. Christiana’s multiple personalities give readers and the author quite a bit to deal with. It is an intriguing concept, and Ide handles it quite well so far as it goes. But the side plots involving supporting characters tend to slow things down just a bit, and needlessly so. Ide also goes all-in on political and cultural issues repeatedly and excessively, and the pacing suffers as a result.

That said, HI FIVE is well worth reading for Ide’s command of language. I underlined or highlighted numerous passages on many pages to memorialize similes, metaphors and descriptions that I found to be quite memorable. Isaiah also continues to be one of the more distinctive characters in contemporary detective fiction, both because of and in spite of the occasional hiccups in this one. The ending may be somewhat open-ended as to the future of the series, but if the conclusion constitutes a new beginning for IQ, I’ll be there for the next round. You should be as well.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 14, 2020

Hi Five: An IQ Novel
by Joe Ide

  • Publication Date: January 28, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316509531
  • ISBN-13: 9780316509534