Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: Izzy Spellman is 28, single and works for Spellman Investigations, a family-run private detective agency. She might have a chequered past littered with romantic mistakes - but at least she's good at her job. Invading people's privacy comes naturally. To the whole family. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail and wiretap a Spellman. But when Izzy's parents hire her 14-year-old sister to discover the identity of her new boyfriend, Izzy decides she wants out. Before they'll let her go, her parents ask her to solve one last case - a 15-year-old, ice-cold, missing person, impossible-to-solve case. But when a disappearance occurs far closer to home, Izzy's Impossible Case becomes the most important of her life.

At first, I thought I was going to be in for a romcom chicklit book and was therefore really surprised when the book got padded out with quite a bit of strong detective background, amongst which the most useful would be about tailing suspects on foot and by car.

I settled in for the ride, having no idea where the book was going to go. The main character, Izzy, is a scary, funny, fragile and above all, seriously messed up person. But likeable. The story is engaging and rattles along, with a lot of backstory to go be caught up on, before the cold case is thrown into the loop. I am sorry to say that I suspected pretty soon into the cold case investigation what the whole story was about, but it was good fun regardless, watching Izzy put it together. (I am sad like that, I'm afraid and does not reflect on the story being transparent!)

I particularly liked Izzy's youngest sister, Rae. Rae is worthy of a young adult book all by herself. All through the book there are short interview sections with Izzy and a detective and you discover that Rae's gone missing. Twine this through the cold case story, the insane machinations of a family weirder than the Addams Family and wrap it around Izzy's bizarre relationships with everyone she comes into contact with and you come up with a delicious tangle of a storyline. It all pans out in the end, I am pleased to say, into a neat little package and I am keen to find out what happens next in the Spellman's lives.

Find Lisa Lutz's website here. I am pleased to see that the follow-up novel is aleady out in the States and should be hitting the UK shelves shortly - The Curse of the Spellman's.

No comments: