The local private detective from Los Angele’s southside, Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, is back for a fourth go round in Jo Ide’s latest novel Hi Five. At the end of the last IQ book, Wrecked, Grace, the love of IQ’s life, had been forced to flee LA. But when Hi Five opens IQ is in a reasonably good place. He is solving small, local crimes, like a dognapping, and he has a new girlfriend who is first violin in a local orchestra. But the accidental drive by shooting of a local shopkeeper brings IQ back into the firing line and not long after things become even more complicated and dangerous.
The main plot revolves around the murder of the right hand man of a local arms dealer. Angus Byrne does not take prisoners. He blackmails IQ into investigating the murder with the aim of clearing his daughter Christiana, who is the only suspect. The complicating factor turns out to be Christiana’s multiple personalities. Those who remember the TV show The United States of Tara will know how this works. Christiana has four alternative personalities, or alters, and when one is in control the others don’t necessarily know or remember what is going on. While this is going on, gang tensions are heating up, Grace returns to LA and IQ’s old partner Dodson is seeking to work with him again.
The earlier books in this series relied on IQ’s Sherlockian powers of deduction. Much like Wrecked, while these are on show here, there is much more sneaking around, doing deals and crashing through than calm deduction going on. And soon, while IQ remains keen to solve the murder, this mission almost becomes a side issue. Angus has threatened Stella, IQ’s girlfriend, and in order to protect her he descends into the dark side of his nature, using his knowledge and powers of persuasion to bring the gang war to a head.
As with previous books, part of the pleasure of this series is in the well drawn side characters who all get short point of view sections. Whether it is Dodson, trying to find reason in his life, IQ’s friend TK who is looking for love, a pair of female assassins, or even Angus, who’s backstory is drip fed through the story. These characters, together with the evocative descriptions of downtown LA contribute to the richness of this book and of the series as a whole.
This is another solid entry in a series that is not resting on its laurels. And the ending provides a kind of hard reset which could see the next IQ story (if there is one) going in literally any direction. As with Wrecked, Ide drops enough breadcrumbs to enable Hi Five to be read as a standalone. But as the series gets longer, there is greater pleasure to be had in reading the books in order.