Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Spellman Files

The Spellman Files
Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files (The Spellmans, #1)

Genre: Mystery, Chick Lit

Summary (from Goodreads):  Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.

Review: Izzy Spellman's family is even crazier than Stephanie Plum's!  This book reminded me of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series in so many ways - a quirky yet lovable heroine, her wacky family, boyfriend troubles, and a mystery to solve.  It was easy to read, hard to put down, and laugh out loud funny in parts.  I downgraded it to four stars primarily because of the confusion in the timeline; as I read further, I figured out that the bulk of the story is told as a flashback, which did help build suspense for the major drama in the story, but I found it awkward.  The mystery in this book is secondary to the character development, but I didn't mind that because I thought Izzy and her family were delightful - weird, undoubtedly, and with questionable morals, but really fun to read about.  I reserved the next two books in the series from my library as soon as I finished reading this one.

Rating: 4 stars

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