Just Read – The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz

I read the first 20 pages or so as a pre-publication, and was interested enough to write it into my “Possible Reads” file.  Then I happened upon it at Barnes & Noble in the Bargain Bin, so I went ahead and picked it up.  I’ve had it on my bookshelf for maybe a year, and I took it down over Christmas, anticipating a flight that didn’t happen.

From Amazon:

From Publishers Weekly
In a family of private investigators, privacy is nonexistent. The Spellman parents spy on the kids just as much as the kids spy on the parents. But after 28 years of this, middle child Isabelle wants out of the family business. Her parents agree, but only if she solves the 10-year-old cold case of a missing teenage. Amusing and entertaining, Lutz’s tale of investigation, family and love is given an additional bemusing touch by Ari Graynor. She grasps the material and Isabelle’s resigned disposition of both loving and loathing her family. She captures Isabelle’s more emotional responses and the youthful tone of her younger sister, Rae. However, she is occasionally too breathy, literally blowing into the microphone. While these come off as sighs, they still seem to cross that line between narration and interpretation. The abridgment of some of the book’s various subplots increases the speed of this already fast paced comedy-mystery.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist
Fans of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series will enjoy this clever debut (the first in a series) featuring Izzy Spellman, an irrepressible 28-year-old sleuth who works for her parents’ San Francisco PI firm. Members of the dysfunctional and relentlessly nosy Spellman clan include Izzy’s 14-year-old sister, Rae, who engages in recreational surveillance (a fancy term for tailing people just for kicks), and her uncle Ray, a cancer survivor and recovering health-food addict who regularly disappears on liquor-drenched “Lost Weekends.” Scenes showcasing the relationships among the various Spellmans are often laugh-out-loud funny. (The novel’s prologue is an amusing example of the boundaries–or lack thereof–between Izzy and her mom and dad). Alas, bit after comic bit does not a mystery novel make, and only toward the end does Lutz pick up the narrative pace. Addicted to Get Smart reruns and forever attracted to the wrong kind of men, Izzy Spellman is definitely an appealing heroine; all this series needs to become a smashing success is a more generous dose of story and suspense. Allison Block
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to the
Hardcover edition.

I’ve read several Stephanie Plum novels, and this can certainly be compared to them.  Part chick-lit, part mystery, with some high jinks thrown in.  It was a nice change of pace, after getting burned out on Stephanie after the sixth book.  And it was a very light read, fast paced.  There was one very glaring typo in the copy I read –  she’s on a missing persons case, trying to find a guy named Andrew who disappeared 12 years ago.  She keeps calling Andrew’s brother, Martin, but at one point in the book it says, “I placed another call to Andrew…”  It confused me enough that I had to re-read about 50 pages or so, before I figured she must have meant Martin. 

The best part of the book, I think, was Rae, the main character’s 14 year old sister.  I thought she was the most developed character, and I kept thinking she would be fun to watch in a movie version of the book.

Anyone want to read it before I throw it in the Goodwill bin?  Let me know.

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