Joe Ide Elevates the Stakes
For a while most novels felt overly formulaic and like copies of their predecessors, but I feel like recently we’ve seen a resurgence in originality, especially with novels like Wrecked by Joe Ide, the third entry in the IQ Series following private investigator Isaiah Quintabe.
Up until now, Isaiah has been largely busy chasing after minor cases, accepting Christmas sweaters and carpet cleaning favours for his services. While life has definitely thrown him a few curveballs, he not only managed to come out on top, but also earned himself a bit of fame in the process. His business is now more legitimate than ever, even having a Facebook page, courtesy of Isaiah’s former-sidekick-turned-partner Dodson. Things are looking better than ever, but naturally, this is only a sign of just how bad things are about to turn.
A young painter, Grace, enlists Isaiah for help tracking down her missing mother, a case which gives the detective the chance to connect with people a bit, something he has been longing for.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the train to veer off the rails, and soon IQ finds himself face-to-face with a paramilitary operation whose members aren’t very keen on leaving the shadows. Perhaps even more alarmingly, he puts himself on a collision course with the most dangerous enemy he has had to face yet: an Oxford-educated gangster and genius, responsible for the death of Isaiah’s brother.
A Darker Tone in Wrecked
So far, the novels in the IQ Series have been a fair mix of sombre subject matter (detective mysteries can hardly do without them) and lighthearted, slice-of-life moments which generally consist of watching our characters struggle with daily existence. This time around, I had the impression the tone was definitely taken towards the darker side of the equation, especially in regards to the brutality and cruelty displayed by the men involved in the paramilitary operation.
This change in tone definitely reflects on the rest of the story and its characters, and perhaps a bit more than in the previous novels, it seemed to me like the stakes were actually being raised.
No longer are we leisurely following an investigation where we have an innate disconnect from the victims. Instead, we are watching our very own beloved protagonist trying to find his way out of his own maelstrom, all while going eye-to-eye with his long-existing inner demons and facing a very real danger.
Now, I can see how taking this different path might be a bit off-putting to certain readers who were wishing and hoping for more of the same, as would have been the case with a Hercule Poirot novel. However, I personally believe this change was for the better for there is only so much Ide can do with his characters if he keeps them locked in the same existence they’ve had up until now.
Seeing our characters moving forward and showing the effects of their previous adventures makes them feel a lot more real and relatable, showing they aren’t immune the consequences like so many other literary characters.
Entertainment Never Dies
Wrecked might definitely have a darker tone than before, but that doesn’t mean there is no longer any room for the trademark comedy we’ve become accustomed to. As a matter of fact, it contrasts even more starkly with the rest of the subject matter, and for me at least, feels more impactful than in the previous novels; there is a decent amount of brutality, and respite from it always seems to come at the precise time we start yearning for it.
A lot of the humour in Wrecked is, in its nature, reminiscent of what we’ve been seeing in the series so far. More often than not, we witness our main cast of characters struggling with the everyday problems we pretty much all face at one point or another; from unpaid bills to resentful mothers-in-law, no problem is too mundane or inconsequential for them.
Quality-wise it’s as good as it has ever been, and even the less believable sequences, like defeating paramilitary operatives armed with the latest technology using nothing but a slingshot, somehow manage not to derail into pure fantasy.
The plot is relatively fast-paced and seldom meanders on any one topic or scene for too long. There are always some developments taking place here or there, and even when we’re taking a breather to laugh for a bit, it still feels like things are moving forward one way or another.
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This near-constant motion barely leaves any chance to get bored, and before you know it Isaiah has made his way through a web of ridiculous intrigue to a satisfying conclusion.
The Final Verdict
Wrecked by Joe Ide is an excellent continuation to the IQ Series, bringing a darker and more cruel plot to the table while still keeping the trademark pace humour alive.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous novels in the series or are looking for a good private investigator mystery in general, then I highly recommend you give this book a shot.
Joe Ide is an American writer primarily focusing on crime fiction. Having grown up in Los Angeles, he is more than familiar with the setting he uses for his series of crime novels, titled the IQ Series. His debut novel, simply titled IQ, was nominated for the 2017 Edgar Award for best first novel by an American writer. Addition entries in the series include Righteous, Wrecked and Hi Five.