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Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (*Hardcover)

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files
by Lisa Lutz
358 Pages
ISBN:  1416532404
ISBN13: 978-1416532408
setting:  San Francisco, California (United States)

http://www.simonschuster.com
 
 




Visit the Spellmans online



My Review:

Lisa Lutz’s first novel, “The Spellman Files,” introduces readers to the lovable, albeit highly dysfunctional Spellman family. Be prepared to adore this zany cast of characters, that will butt their way right into your heart and have you laughing along the way. A strong female protagonist with a meddling family may, at first glance, seem a bit blase’, but don’t be fooled, the writing, narrative and perspective work together like a well oiled machine generating the ideal reading experience…

Secrets, scheming and sneaking are all part in parcel of a good days work for a private investigator. Albert and Olivia Spellman have been spying on people for a living since shortly after they wed and their three children have been immersed in this environment all their lives. Even though David, the Spellman’s oldest son, left the family business to pursue a career in law, he can’t avoid occasionally being lured into one of his parent's schemes. The youngest daughter, Rae, has been honing her spy skills from the tender age of six when she convinced her parents to allow her to tag along during surveillance operations. Now a mischievous teenager, she utilizes this unique knowledge to conduct “personal surveillance,” on her friends.

Isabel, 28, is the stereotypical middle child still trying to rebuild the bridge of trust destroyed during her rebellious teens. A sure-footed investigator, with sound judgment, when it comes to business; however, the same cannot be said for her choices in men. Criticized by her perfect older brother, emulated by her younger sister and hounded by her parents, Izzy’s life borders on the edge of insanity, which she desperately wants to escape.

Sharp-tongued, Izzy Spellman has even reduced her failing love life to a list of wise-cracking facts- name, age, relationship length and ‘famous last words.’ Izzy discovers potential ‘ex-boyfriend #9′ while working the case of Daniel Castillo. Izzy is quite smitten with the Guatemalan dentist and knows the importance of keeping her family in the dark about her new love interest. And in a family of snoops, that’s impossible! When she discovers her parents have Rae following her, it is the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back and Izzy quits.

Of course, this hard-nosed, scheming family isn’t going to just wither-up and go away, so they offer Izzy a deal…solve this one last case and she is free of her contract. Catch? Oh certainly- there’s a big catch…The case they choose is that of a missing teen from Marin County that disappeared near Lake Tahoe some twelve years ago. Izzy hoped her grit and determination would light a fire under this cold case and thus dissolve the contract that had held her hostage in the family business. So she literally throws herself into this decade-old case. However, while digging into the unsolved case, her little sister, Rae goes missing. She seems to have vanished into thin air and although Izzy and Rae bicker, as do all sisters, she loves the nosey little hellion and will stop at nothing to find her.

Sassy, witty and loaded with sarcasm, this fast-paced story swirls around the outrageously dysfunctional Spellman Family. Even in a house where it’s normal to find triple locks on bedroom doors, the Spellman’s hide their fair share of secrets. Lisa Lutz’s debut novel, “The Spellman Files” explores the inner workings of the family dynamic, from Izzy’s perspective. Revealing how just below the surface stuff… the snooping, scheming and wiretaps, there’s a deep, heartfelt sentiment. Cleverly layered throughout the story is that familiar ”something” we can all recognize…that “thing” bonds and unites families despite all the shortcomings and misunderstandings. “The Spellman Files: A Novel” is an entertaining read that unfolds with deliberate precision. Kick and crunch action is followed by off-the-wall, whip-smart punch lines that will have you laughing out loud more than once. Original, kooky and delightfully dysfunctional, Lisa Lutz gives readers a fresh new way to enjoy comedic crime novels. And readers can rejoice, there’s more zaniness to follow. So get acquainted with the Spellman’s and settle in for a truly enjoyable series.

Happy Reading!

~ RJ



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