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. 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"). 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.
To say this book was entertaining would be an understatement. Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files was a fast paced read that kept me both on the edge of my seat with anticipation and constantly laughing out loud. Sure some of the events in the novel were a little outrageous at times, but that is what made it so enjoyable! The Spellman family is so crazy they make my own dysfunctional family seem like a bunch of angels!
One of the aspects I loved most about this book was the way that the plot progressed. The majority of the novel is Izzy thinking back to the events over the past few months as she sits in an interrogation room talking to a police investigator. Through these fragments the reader gets a fairly good picture of each of the members of the Spellman family, and how they fit in to the disappearance of Izzy's sister. At times the novel almost felt like a bunch of short stories until the pieces of the puzzle finally came together in the end.
If you are the type of reader who enjoys character development over plot then this is definitely the book for you! While the novel does have a plot (of course), the main focus of The Spellman Files seems to be more on the character development rather than the events that are occurring. Each of Izzy's memories dives deep into the inner workings of both herself and those that she is close to, allowing readers to really feel as if they know the characters themselves. Despite how crazy the Spellman family is, I couldn't help but grow attached to them as the story progressed.
While I generally liked this book, there were nevertheless a few aspects that irked me at times. *Mini Spoiler Alert* One of the things I didn't like was the fact that the main romantic interest developed throughout the story falls to pieces by the end. While the readers are warned way ahead of time by Izzy that Daniel is doomed to be ex-boyfriend #9, I couldn't help but wish that the two of them would stick together. I suppose this is a more realistic portrayal of relationships though then most chick lit books. *End of Spoiler* Another thing that bugged me at times was Izzy's self-destructive personality. As a reader I just wanted to slap her in the head a couple of times and tell her to not be so stupid. Without her bad choices, however, the novel wouldn't have been as exciting and probably wouldn't have progressed very far.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time spent reading The Spellman Files, and I look forward to seeing what this crazy family gets up to next! While this is an adult book, I think it is something that teens could read and enjoy as well. I would recommend it to fans of mystery or chick lit novels like the Stephanie Plum series.
Rating: 4 Stars