By Margaret S. Hamilton
I met Joe Ide’s brilliant character, Isaiah Quintabe, in the first of his six-book series, IQ. Isaiah, like his creator, is a product of South-Central Los Angeles. Ide weaves Isaiah’s story with dual timelines and multiple points of view. His screenwriting background is evident with his seamless time and point of view transitions.
Isaiah is an orphaned seventeen-year-old when his older brother, Marcus, is killed in a hit and run accident. He’s determined to support himself and discover who killed his brother. Isaiah rents his spare room to Dodson, a high school friend, who helps pay the rent by luring Isaiah into various business ventures, legal and illegal. But no guns. Isaiah has standards. Isaiah assumes a Robin Hood role when he rescues a young woman and also provides financial and emotional support to a young teenager crippled in a gun fight.
Isaiah is a finder and a truth-seeker, assisting his neighbors with problems like missing wedding gifts as well as more lucrative gigs.
Part of Isaiah’s backstory involves his high school geometry teacher, who instructs the class about inductive reasoning: specific observations lead to broad generalizations, though the conclusion may be false. Ide likens Isaiah to Sherlock Holmes, who uses deductive reasoning: if the premise is true, the conclusion must be true.
The behavior and training of pit bulls is a major part of the book. Isaiah consults knowledgeable breeders who identify a terrifying specimen, Goliath, “a pit bull on steroids” bred, at one time, from a Presa Canario, a breed of guard and fighting dogs. Goliath is a hundred-pound-plus trained killer. Isaiah respects and fears the dog, but is prepared to deal with him.
As a renovation enthusiast, and because I’m in the middle of a “beginning pages” class, I delighted in Ide’s opening paragraph:
“Isaiah’s crib looked like every other house on the block except the lawn was cut even, the paint was fresh, and the entrance was a little unusual. The security screen was made from the same heavy-duty mesh they used to cage in crackheads and bank robbers at the Long Beach police station. The front door was covered with a thin walnut veneer but underneath was a twenty-gauge steel core set in a cold steel frame with a pick-proof, bump-proof, drill-proof Medeco Double Cylinder High Security Maxum Deadbolt. You’d need some serious power tools to get past all that and even if you did there was no telling what you’d be into. Word was, the place was booby-trapped. A cherry eight-year-old Audi S4 was parked in the driveway. It was a small, plain car in dark gray with a big V8 and sports suspension. The neighborhood kids were always yelling at Isaiah to put some rims on that whip.” (p.7)
Readers, have you encountered a likeable and unique character like Isaiah Quintabe? Writers, have you created a likeable and unique character?