Here’s the Blurb:*
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.
*This is actually a blurb from the first book, but it gives you an idea of the overall flavor of the series and applies to all of the books.
Specific to this book:
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.
The obvious comparison for these books is Janet Evanovich. Among the Spellman’s however, there is a lot more family drama and a lot less love triangle (for which I am thankful). I tried out the first book in this series several weeks ago and immediately ordered up the next one. After I finished book 2 and realized that this was good, fun story telling I ordered up the rest of the series.
Lisa Lutz is so clever in the way she introduces her stories and propels the narrative. Yes, you will be able to guess some threads of the mystery, but it is likely you won’t catch them all (that was only coincidentally a Pokemon reference).
These stories feel like the old capers in Get Smart (a favorite of the main character Izzy). They are simultaneously slapstick funny while also getting characters into deadly serious situations. The family dynamics really take the cake though. Like many families, the Spellman’s are up in each others business, but in a very unique way. They are all simultaneously spying and keeping tabs on each other, manipulating each other through obfuscation and false leads, and, in general, inserting themselves into the lives of innocent bystanders like a friendly detective and neighborhood bartender.
I highly recommend this for anyone that is a fan of the old caper comedies or of books like the Stephanie Plum series from Janet Evanovich. At the same time, readers of family or women’s humor are also likely to enjoy these stories with their flawed protagonist and her adorkable family.
Overall: 4 stars