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4 Reasons Why Joe Ide’s IQ Series is a Must-Read


I first heard about Joe Ide’s novel, IQ, when the rights for a TV adaptation sold, which happened a year before the novel was published! I am always super interested in reading a book that can get the movie/TV industry betting on it before they even know the reading audience’s interest. Clearly, the work must have an amazing concept, or story, or really strong characters that producers are certain will be a hit. In the case of IQ, it turns out it had it all, and it was a really smart bet.


If you’re new to Joe Ide’s IQ series, here are four things that make it a must-read.



1. It’s All About Deductions, My Dear Watson

Isaiah Quintabe (IQ) is an unlicensed private detective in East Long Beach who takes cases mostly from members of his community and accepts payment in the form of whatever they can afford, chickens included. He isn’t wealthy, he doesn’t have friends that work in labs, he doesn’t lift fingerprints or test for DNA; he’s just gifted in being observant. He notices what most people don’t pay attention to or process to connect to other things. It’s always a delight to read a mystery that relies on deducing, something the reader can easily play along with. Like yes, yes that mustard stain on his shirt clearly meant he was eating a hot dog and not skydiving! Or, you know, written better by an actual mystery writer. It feels too easy sometimes when technology can just spit out the suspect’s name or connect someone to the crime. I am team more deducing! 


2. The Importance of Setting

Setting matters in every novel, but it especially matters if you’re going to represent an ethnically diverse community. And it’s even more important if that community deals with crime regularly. A lot of times, places are written about from an outside lens that shows a stereotypical picture that does harm. Ide instead brings East Long Beach to life as a community filled with real people and their backstories and lives, rich and far from caricatures or stereotypes. It also leaves room for so many stories to be told by the community and its members that I really hope to get to know many of IQ’s neighbors over the course of the series.


3. A Character That Stays With You Long After Reading

I kept thinking about this series while I binge-watched Netflix’s On My Block—a coming-of-age story about teens in an inner-city L.A. neighborhood. I couldn’t stop imagining IQ helping Jamal with his treasure hunt. Or, actually, it probably would have been Jamal driving IQ bananas in trying to force him to help him find the treasure. Any character that stays with me, that my brain starts pairing with unrelated things, is always a testament to the strength of how well that character was written. They’ve clearly been brought to life in such a manner that I carry them with me and want to see them continue to do their thing while I wait for more novels. So what I’m saying is that IQ is a fantastic character who comes to life from the page and feels completely real.


4. The Series Just Started So You Can Easily Catch-up!

I know that feeling of discovering a mystery series and getting excited only to realize that it’s on book number 18 and suddenly feeling very overwhelmed. Can you just dive in with the most recent release and then make your way through? How long will it take to read 18 books and get caught up? And then you’re suddenly grabbing a standalone novel and running away. I get it. In the case (heh) of the IQ series, however, your timing is perfect because it is recent: the second in the series, Righteous, just came out, and the third in the series, Wrecked, comes out in October 2018. So, no marathon catch-up required. Also, you can read three books without the years-long publishing wait between each one. It’s a win-win.

Speaking of those 18 book series, though, I do hope IQ will be around for a long run. I like watching his growth, personal struggles, his relationship with Dodson (oh, does that rhyme with Watson?), and the community he lives in. So more IQ mysteries please, and thank you.





Jamie Canavés is a Book Riot contributing editor who always has a book in one hand. She writes the Unusual Suspects mystery newsletter, never says no to chocolate or ‘80s nostalgia, and spends way too much time asking her goat-dog “What’s in your mouth?!” Tweets: @Oh_Dinky.


On Mildred Pierce: A Conversation with Laura Lippman

Both Laura Lippman and myself are ardent, perhaps obsessive fans of the James M. Cain novel, Mildred Pierce. For just that reason, we both had been avoiding watching the HBO miniseries starring Kate Winslet and Guy Pearce and directed by Todd Haynes. Finally, with the series now on DVD, I surrendered and watched it, as did Laura. Below, expanded from an attenuated Facebook thread, are our thoughts on the experience, which ultimately led to the question, as Laura poses it on her blog: what happens when someone has a “deep, mad love for a book”? Is any adaptation of it doomed?


LL:  In the final episode of the five-hour plus adaptation of Mildred Pierce, I began to wonder if it just might be quicker to read the audiobook. Not quite, not at all—it’s 10 hours. But whatever happened to pictures being worth 1,000 words? Stranger still, the last two episodes seemed rushed. It was almost as if someone at HBO said, ‘Oh my god, we authorized how many hours? Pull the plug!’ (Full disclosure, I know and admire/like Cary Antholis, who oversees miniseries there, so I know this couldn’t be the case.)

I know the book so well that I wasn’t sure I could give the miniseries a fair shake. But two things strike me. First, James M. Cain, as a former newspaperman, knows how to write very tight compressed scenes. He violates the principle of ‘show, not tell’ over and over again—and the book is better for it. Take, for example, the scene of Mildred and Monty’s jaunty banter, en route to Lake Arrowhead. It zips by in the novel, written indirectly.

“Going through Pasadena, they decided it was time to tell names, and when he heard hers, he asked if she was related to Pierce Homes. When she said she was ‘married to them for a while,’ he professed to be delighted, saying they were they worst homes ever built, as all the roofs leaked. She said that was nothing compared to how they treasury leaked, and they both laughed gaily. His name, Beragon, he had to spell for her before she got it straight, and as he put the accent on the last syllable she asked: ‘Is it French?’’’

Put in straight-forward dialogue, this exchange loses so much of its charm and breeziness.

The second problem is that it’s a very internal novel. Mildred can’t express her feelings and she often doesn’t understand them. All credit to Kate Winslet for trying to play this literal, humorless character. I think she was miscast. I think almost everyone is miscast, except for Guy Pearce, who made me see Monty’s charm at last; Mare Winningham; Melissa Leo; and maybe young Veda.

I will say I’m convinced that Todd Haynes loves the novel. Continue reading “On Mildred Pierce: A Conversation with Laura Lippman”

Seven Things Novelists Should Know About Screenwriting

ScreenplayI was thinking about creating a Top Ten list of things novelists should know about screenwriting because everyone loves Top Ten lists. However, since I’m contrarian by nature, I decided to come up with seven. Also, less work. So here they are… the seven things you should know as you make the switch.

1. You Give Up the Copyright. This is the number one thing you should realize if you want to be a screenwriter. As soon as you sell your screenplay to a studio, you give up the copyright on that screenplay. They can change anything and everything they want. Remember how your main character had a wife? Well, they changed it to a plucky teen-age sister to bring in the younger audience. Remember that pivotal scene when the main character hanged himself? Now, he has a change of heart and swears off alcohol and rides off into the sunset. And you have zero control over it.

2. You Can Be Fired From Your Own Project. This goes hand-in-hand with number one, but once you sell a script, you can be fired at any time. Understand, there are many reasons you can be fired from your own script that have nothing to do with your merits as a writer. The lead actor might have a screenwriting buddy who has helped polish all of his scripts. The studio might want to go in a different direction you resisted. The director might want to write it himself. You might simply be too expensive. Screenwriting is a far greater collaborative experience than novel writing and if you resist collaboration, they’ll replace you with someone who is more agreeable. If you think the subsequent writer will come in and tell them, “this is great! Don’t touch it! Don’t do these ridiculous notes!” you are wrong.

Continue reading “Seven Things Novelists Should Know About Screenwriting”

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