I suppose it surprised no one that, generally speaking, I took well to breaking the rules of society and invading other people’s privacy.
— Izzie Spellman (narrating)
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THE SPELLMAN FILES: A NOVEL
Izzie Spellman was born to a family of private investigators. Her father and mother ran a private investigative firm employing her Uncle Ray and all three Spellman children.
David, the oldest child, and Izzie were dumpster diving and running database traces at twelve and started surveillance at fourteen. Their much younger sister, Rae, took snooping and P.I. work to heart at the tender age of 7.
Growing up, there was no such thing as privacy. Parents investigated their kid’s friends and romantic interests — even running credit and criminal checks on the entire family. Everyone snooped in everyone else’s rooms and shadowed each other relentlessly. Skills such as lock picking were taught as birthday presents.
By the time she reached adulthood, Izzie’s rebelliousness settled down to a dull roar — most of it channeled into her career as a private investigator.
Eventually, Izzie Spellman began to yearn for freedom from her family’s prying ways. In an effort to make her life “normal”, she decided to sever her employment with the family firm. Surprisingly, her mother agreed — if she took one last case — a cold case — the mystery of a missing young man.
Izzie took the deal and pushed hard when she discovered discrepancies in the case.
Then her little sister suddenly disappeared.
While Rae’s disappearance is a haunting presence throughout most of the book, the focus is on the rebellious girl growing up in a family of private investigators — embracing and then rejecting her unusual birthright.
The humor varies from quiet to outrageous and author Lisa Lutz pulls it off with aplomb. I was absolutely hooked within the first few pages by the section entitled The Interrogation Room — where Izzie documents the highlights of her time in the basement, being grilled by her parents in an attempt to ferret out her wrong doings. Did I mention she was a rebellious child?
This first book by Lisa Lutz made the finals in 2008 for the Anthony Award, the Barry Award, the Dilys Award and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. Although it didn’t win, I think the fact that it made so many short lists speaks volumes about the book.
Perhaps it didn’t win because the mystery takes such a back seat in the story — but it was still a lot of fun to read.
The Series in Order:
- The Spellman Files
- Curse of the Spellmans
- Revenge of the Spellmans
- The Spellmans Strike Again
- Trail of the Spellmans