30 March 2010

Review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

The Spellman Files
Spellman Files #1

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.

I had really high expectations on this book, and at the end it let me down. This novel is told from the perspective of Izzy, but she has so many interactions with so many different characters (and with each of them she told a different story) that I ended up tired. I wanted the book to get focused on one thing instead of telling many short stories.

My favourite parts of the book where the ones that included Rae, Izzy's 14 year old sister, and the ones that happened in the bar. Milo, the bartender, is a saint (he has to hear all the complaints from Izzy and Rae).

The mystery that is set at the beggining of the book is resolved in around 10 pages. Let's just say that the rest of the book is how they got into that situation in the first place.
This book is a light read, a little crazy and don't expect too much mystery in it even though Izzy and her family are all PI.

Memorable Lines:

Isabel, Age 8
"Isabel, did you sneak into your brother's room last night and cut his hair?"
"No," I say.
Long pause.
"Are you sure? Maybe you need some time to refresh your memory."
Albert takes a seat across the table and looks me straight in the eye. I quickly look down but try to mantain my ground.
"I don't know anything about a haircut," I say.
Albert places a pair of safety scissors on the table.
"Do these look familiar?"
"Those could be anyone's."
"But we found them in your bedroom."
"I was framed."
In fact, I was grounded for a week.