Curse of the Spellmans: Document #2

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Simon and Schuster, Mar 11, 2008 - Fiction - 320 pages
5 Reviews
In this sidesplittingly funny follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The Spellman Files, San Francisco’s own highly functioning yet supremely dysfunctional family of private investigators are back on the case in another mystery full of suspicion, surveillance, humor, and surprise from award-winning author Lisa Lutz. Curse of the Spellmans was nominated for both the Edgar Award and the Macavity Award, and the Izzy Spellman Mysteries have earned comparisons to everything from Carl Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich to Veronica Mars and Bridget Jones.

When Izzy Spellman, PI, is arrested for the fourth time in three months, she writes it off as a job hazard. She’s been (obsessively) keeping surveillance on a suspicious next door neighbor (suspect’s name: John Brown), convinced he’s up to no good—even if her parents (the management at Spellman Investigations) are not.

When the (displeased) management refuses to bail Izzy out, it is Morty, Izzy’s octogenarian lawyer, who comes to her rescue. But before he can build a defense, he has to know the facts. Over weak coffee and diner sandwiches, Izzy unveils the whole truth and nothing but the truth—as only she, a thirty-year-old licensed professional, can.

When not compiling Suspicious Behavior Reports on all her family members, staking out her neighbor, or trying to keep her sister, Rae, from stalking her “best friend,” Inspector Henry Stone, Izzy has been busy attempting to apprehend the copycat vandal whose attacks on Mrs. Chandler’s holiday lawn tableaux perfectly and eerily match a series of crimes from 1991–92, when Izzy and her best friend, Petra, happened to be at their most rebellious and delinquent. As Curse of the Spellmans unfolds, it’s clear that Morty may be on retainer, but Izzy is still very much on the, cases—her own and that of every other Spellman family member.

Lisa Lutz brings her trademark wit and humor back in what Publishers Weekly calls a “sparkling sequel.” (Re)meet the Spellmans, a family in which eavesdropping is a mandatory skill, locks are meant to be picked, past missteps are never forgotten, and blackmail is the preferred form of negotiation—all in the name of unconditional love.

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Isabel Spellman is not your typical 30-year-old. She's never had a real job outside of her family that she didn't deliberately sabotage. She always runs background checks of current boyfriends. And if she wants to know something about her family, she spies on them.
It's how she was raised in the Spellman household - and she's quickly realizing she can't escape that.
Onetime screenwriter Lisa Lutz has crafted a perfectly dysfunctional family of private investigators living in San Francisco from the viewpoint of eldest daughter Isabel, arguably the most deliciously dysfunctional of them all.
Izzy's past includes a lot of drunken nights with her best friend, Petra, mild drug use, vandalism and other various run-ins with the law. These days, although her adolescence and juvenile record are behind her, she never migrated into what her parents would think of as normal adulthood - unlike perfect older brother David.
Not that it bothers Izzy much. She's happy migrating through various housing situations, various boyfriends and the Philosopher's Club, her favorite watering hole. But she can't seem to shake working for her parents' private investigation business and can't (or won't) stop spying on people, whether it's for business, pleasure or to get the dirt on secretive family members.
Adding to the melee is her younger sister, Rae, who actually admits to a desire to work for the family business and bugs Isabel to no end; and of course, Izzy's own tendency to find the mystery in every situation.
Lutz's style is comedic, but not exactly in the laugh-out-loud way of Evanovich and her ilk. Instead, you find yourself chuckling at Izzy's reluctance, belligerence and general disdain for secrets, authority and stupidity. She's a smart alec but she's also genuinely intelligent - which makes her the unlikely hero to root for in each book.
The author also makes good use of a plethora of footnotes, which usually serve to sum up back stories, provide humorous asides or even refer to stories in previous books ("Check out previous document, ‘Curse of the Spellmans,' now in paperback!")
If you're a fan of humorous mystery novels, and you can relate to a juvenile miscreant who never seemed to grow up (I know I can), you'll enjoy the Spellman books.

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The sequel was just as good!! In fact, I'm pretty upset that I have to wait until March to read the next one!! These are such great books - I'm even reading the first one out loud to my fiance. I do hope that she ends up with Harry....

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Page 4 - I thought you might be hungry, so I brought you a sandwich," Morty said, and then handed me the abused paper bag.

About the author (2008)

Lisa Lutz is the author of the New York Times bestselling, Edgar Award– and Macavity Award–nominated, and Alex Award–winning Spellman Files series and the novels How to Start a Fire and The Passenger. She lives and works in upstate New York.

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