BOOK REVIEW: The Spellman Files (The Spellmans, #1), by Lisa Lutz

the spellman files
Date(s) read: December 10 – 11, 2012
Genre: Mystery, Humour


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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.

My Thoughts

I’ve never really been one for mysteries. I don’t know what it is about them, but whenever I read a book deemed as a mystery, I find myself losing interest before I even crack it open. Call me a girl, but I’ve always leaned more towards the romance part of books. Quite a while ago, I had entered a contest on the Simon & Schuster Canada website to win the first 5 books in Lisa Lutz’s The Spellmans series and ended up winning them. I was so excited! But as the year went by and they continued to sit on my shelf, I knew I needed a kick in the pants to at LEAST read the first one.

Can I just say how happy I am that I opened up that first book and started reading? In fact, I decided that when I read a mystery book from now on, it must be one of those cozy mysteries, about cats or food, or a humourous mystery, like this series. I must have fallen over with laughter numerous times while reading this story. It’s just so laugh out loud funny that I wondered why I didn’t read it when I first got it in the mail!Β 

The Spellman family is so quirky, I must have had a smirk on my face whenever I read about their shenanigans — and really, not a time passed where I read some interaction between the family members that didn’t end with me chuckling. I think I had been so stuck on YA books that I forgot what a good adult book was. Yes, I was intimidated by the genre and the small print, but all was forgotten only pages into the book.

Lutz is a great writer — and the story is told a little differently than some stories. It’s kind of laid out like a chapter book, but certain chapters are for certain parts of the story, rather than the story being laid out from chapter 1 and so forth. It was a little jarring at first, but something I got used to. I also noticed that while there’s a story to this book in the series, this book lays out a lot of the groundwork for other stories in the series. Really, we’re meeting the family in this story. We get to see the history of how they because spys and why they are the way they are. It really was a treat to read this one.

When I finished reading the story — which weaved lots of mystery throughout! — I wanted to pick up the next one in the series immediately! Of course, I was so behind in my reading that it had to wait. I know it will be just as good — if not better — than the debut! Very recommended.



13 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: The Spellman Files (The Spellmans, #1), by Lisa Lutz

  1. So glad you loved this! I read a good chunk of the first one but had to put it down for work. One of my previous coworkers was a HUGE fan and she said the same things as you: the Spellman’s are a hilarious, quirky, spunky family that will keep you laughing all the way through. Love your review!

  2. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (23) | Reading In Winter

  3. I really like this series! I read the first four books a couple of years ago, but still haven’t read the latest one. The style takes a little getting used to but I ended up being totally sucked into this quirky Spellman family and their antics. Glad you enjoyed it.

  4. OOH I haven’t read this series but I’ve heard of it. I’m glad it’s laugh out loud funny! I totally want to read it even more now! It’s ironic because I’m reading Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and another author and so far it’s pretty good, although not quite laugh out loud funny – I’m hoping that’s coming! πŸ˜€

  5. Aw, don’t you love it when a book surprises you like this and you end up loving it despite it being outside your comfort zone? I know I do! I am definitely curious about this one now as I love both mysteries and humour in my books!

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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