I’m a great fan of Sherlock Holmes, the original stories (the canon), various later takes on the characters in fiction and film and even television (both the BBC Sherlock and the American Elementary).  There are times when a new take on the classic characters and stories can be silly, even annoying (I’m not going to name names here), but when it’s done right, a different setting and a different approach to Holmes and Watson and the cast of characters can bring wonderful new insights.

Enter IQ, by Joe Ide, a refreshing new version of Sherlock Holmes.  He’s a young black man living in a rough neighborhood in Los Angeles  whose past is not necessarily something he’s proud of (one of the storylines in the book shows his past, giving us a sense of where he started and what he had to overcome to develop into the man he is during the main plot).  Like Sherlock Holmes, he’s had to train his intellect and develop his other abilities in order to solve mysteries and make a living as an investigator. His real name is Isaiah Quintabe, but everyone in his neighborhood refers to himself as IQ.

The neighborhood in which he lives, East Long Beach, is a high crime area. The L.A.P.D. can barely keep up with the major crimes, and murders go unsolved, missing children disappear and are never recovered.  IQ is willing to take on the cases the police can’t or won’t touch, and, for the people in his neighborhood, he’ll accept whatever they can afford as payment, even if that’s just a pie or a homemade casserole or a set of tires. But in order to make his house payments and keep food on his table, sometimes he has to take on cases because the client can pay actual money.  

Which is how he ends up taking on the case of a rapper who’s been receiving death threats. This wasn’t IQ’s idea, but something pushed on him by his ex-roommate, Juanell Dodson, with whom Isaiah has had some serious issues.  Still, they have to work together to try to protect this rap star, and along the way they run into the rapper’s vengeful ex-wife, an attack dog named Goliath (who definitely deserves the name), a bunch of cutthroats and a hit man who’s so scary even other hitmen are afraid of him and think he’s a lunatic.  The case turns out to be more dangerous and far-reaching than any of them could have suspected, but IQ and his partner end up dispensing justice in a satisfying way,

If you’d like to see a new twist on Sherlock Holmes that’s as respectful of intelligence and the power of brains over brawn as the originals, without the Victorian setting and Victorian limitations on various characters, check out IQ, which is, according to the publisher, already being optioned for a television series.


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