Wrecked by Joe Ide
Isaiah Quintabe, or IQ for short, is a black private investigator in East Long Beach, California. He has a quirky way of solving crimes and taking payment. His clients include local members of the working class community he hails from. They pay him in favours, services and reindeer jumpers.
IQ has decided to partner with his very good friend, Dodson, who is a first-time father to a baby boy, the source of much crapping and noise. Dodson doesn’t really care about the nappy changes and constant feeding, although he likes to moan a bit for form’s sake. But babies aren’t cheap to raise and reindeer jumpers won’t pay the bills. With this in mind, he sets out to make IQ’s business more professional. That’s not easy given IQ’s relaxed approach to his bills.
Grace is a painter who has attracted the romantic attentions of IQ, but he finds it difficult to get past her emotional barriers. When she approaches him for help in finding her mother, Sarah, IQ is taken by surprise but becomes determined to locate the missing parent. As payment he adopts the new policy enacted by Dodson, almost. He requests a specific oil painting of Grace’s. She agrees.
Unfortunately, IQ is not getting the full story from his pretty new client. There is a lot more to her mother’s disappearance than she is revealing. There is the not-so-small matter of Grace’s father and his involvement in a US military interrogation squad responsible for torture in Abu Ghraib. Whilst Grace’s father wasn’t directly involved in the atrocities, his comrades were and he brought the evidence home with him. It may have been this that got him killed many years before when Grace was still a teenager.
After his murder, the next door neighbour to the small family unit was killed by person or person’s unknown. It was then that Grace’s mother fled, leaving her only child to face the world on her own. IQ has a lot to wade through to discover what happened to Sarah over the years. It doesn’t help when Dodson is contacted by a weird pseudo-vampire who tries to blackmail him over something that happened many years ago, also involving IQ.
The remaining members of the Abu Ghraib torture team, Jimenez, Owens, Hawkins and CIA operative, Walczak, are back on the scene when they receive a note from Sarah requiring one million dollars in payment to prevent her from releasing incriminating photos of what took place in the Iraqi prison. Walczak has employed the services of sociopathic former cop, Richter, to help in finding his blackmailer. But, as Walczak has prospered over the years since his time in Iraq and the others have not, fractures exist between them. Walczak can certainly afford to pay Sarah’s fee, but will not. Instead he deploys the considerable resources from his private military corporation to locate and kill Sarah. IQ has walked into a veritable shit-storm.
This is the third instalment in the IQ series, and every bit as good as the others. The lead protagonist is different from what you usually find in these mystery-type thrillers. The author, Joe Ide, states that his biggest influence was the stories of Sherlock Holmes, and it shows. Wrecked has twists and turns aplenty. There are a number of threads that weave nicely through one and other. The story ties in the past and present easily, whether it’s IQ’s life, Grace’s or Dodson’s.
The one-liners in this novel are everywhere. The constant vibe of light humour helps to make the heavier subject matter slightly more palatable. Dodson could get a job doing stand-up. The insults between the military team and Walczak are severe but very amusing. The dialogue has the feel of reality about it whilst being very entertaining. Joe Ide is a very good writer.
As IQ picks up the trail of Sarah, he moves ever closer to Grace as she comes to trust him. He’s been alone for a long time and Grace has touched something within him that he’s never known existed. It seems to be the same for her. But will circumstance allow them to see it though?
The action is continuous as the hunt moves from Long Beach to the chaos of the Burning Man event in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. Rebel Voice wishes readers to know that the Burning Man gathering is very real and takes place this year, 2019, from 25th August until 2nd September. It looks like one of those events that you really should try to get to; a Woodstock that is better run and ongoing. IQ and his friends find it to be way outside their comfort zone, but Sarah seems to be there, somewhere. It ain’t easy to find one person, however, in a wacky crowd of 70,000 that contains fire-eaters, jugglers, vegans (crazy lot them), tight-rope walkers and every other manner of performer and alternative human (and perhaps not human).
(from the Burning Man gathering)
To make things worse, Walczak’s crew are also there but are much better organised, and Sarah is oblivious to the fact that any of them know where she is. Who will get to her first? Will she survive? How will IQ deal with the power and influence of Walzcak? Will IQ and Grace make it? These questions and more will be answered if you choose to read Wrecked.
Sult scale rating: 8.5 out of 10. Highly original novel with a great cast and wonderful settings. IQ is a welcome change from the formulaic detectives one normally finds in stories. His life is broken but he perseveres. OK, he is a tad moralistic, but that can be forgiven due to the high quality of the plot and the consistency of the characters within. Wrecked is a light read but extremely enjoyable and Rebel Voice recommends both this book and series.
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