Saturday, October 4, 2008

Review: Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

I just finished Curse of the Spellmans, the second book written by Lisa Lutz. Her first book, The Spellman Files, I read and reviewed earlier this year. This is such a unique take on the mystery series that I was very excited to read this second offering and I was not disappointed.

A summary from Amazon: The "parental unit" started a private investigation business when Dad retired from police work. His wife assists him and their two daughters, Isabel, (Izzy) a 30-year-old with a habit of being arrested, and Rae, a 15-year-old Cheetos-loving teen, would like to think that they help out in the family business. Especially where Izzy is concerned, this is a stretch. Brother David is a successful attorney who has nothing to do with the family enterprise. He has troubles of his own.
Izzy has been living in the apartment of a friend while he is away. When he returns unexpectedly, it quickly becomes clear that being roommates with an old, cigar-smoking, poker-playing, big drinker isn't going to work. Izzy moves home temporarily and then the fun begins. She decides that their new next door neighbor, John Brown, whose landscape gardening business she judges to be a cover, is somehow making women disappear. She gets herself invited to dinner, discovers a locked room, believes his name is phony, follows him everywhere, has a restraining order against her, and still she can't let it go.

Meanwhile, Rae has befriended a great guy, a cop named Henry Stone, who is almost too good to be true. The reader starts pulling for him and Izzy to get together right away, even though he doesn't deserve the aggravation. Lutz keeps the ball rolling faster and faster with David's problems, her parents' frequent vacations, which they refer to as "disappearances," and the fact that everyone in the family has secrets from one another. If there is any curse at work here, it is that all the family members are terminally nosy. What they discover about each other and the other players keeps you turning pages and hoping that Lutz is hard at work on the next installment of this zany family's misadventures. --Valerie Ryan

When Izzy isn't dealing with her sister harassing Henry Stone, or explaining why arrests #2 and #3 aren't 'real arrests', or writing 'suspicious person' reports on her other family members, she is investigating her next door neighbor, John Brown. She is just sure that he is up to something because who has such a common name?

I love these books! Izzy is such a lovable and completely flawed young lady who I, in equal parts, want to 'mother' and straight out at the same time I want to just go along with her on her adventures and enjoy! She makes me laugh at her antics and explanations.

The entire Spellman clan are quite the 'characters'. Each is a little (okay, more than a little) odd and that manifests itself in clever situations and conversations. Henry Stone as the straight man is quite lovable and quirky in his own way.

I highly recommend this fun mystery series. The more I think about these books, I am reminded of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. But as the book jacket for Curse of the Spellmans states, I am also reminded of Harriet the Spy. For a light, fun mystery, this is a great pick.

Rating: 4/5 stars


Anonymous said...

Sounds like fun. There are times when you just need something like this to read.

Shana said...

Michele, I love 'loveable and flawed' characters!


Anonymous said...

I really agree about this series being unique. It's rare to find that now days. :)

Michele said...

Kathy - these are definitely fun to read. I highly recommend them!

Shana - I do too!!!

J.Kaye - It is hard to find unique these days. I think that contributes to my issues with book memory, if that makes sense!