Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Review: Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

The Spellmans are fun. And it is a pure delight to be back with them in this second of Lutz's six books series about Izzy Spellman, private eye, and her loving, eccentric family. I read the first one when it came out and had no reason to put off reading this next installment except, perhaps, for the fear it wouldn't live up to the first. But it absolutely did and with luck I'll get to the third book far sooner than I did to the second.

As the book opens, Izzy Spellman, a 30 year old private investigator with her family's firm, has been arrested four times in three months (but a couple of those don't count!). This fact might slow down anyone else, but Izzy has always been like a dog with a bone and she is determined to get to the bottom of her unsanctioned investigations, restraining orders and such notwithstanding. She is certain that there is something not quite right about her parents' new neighbor, bland and nice though John Brown appears to be, and she is determined to get to the bottom of it. She also notes suspicious behaviour from her brother, her best friend, her mother, and her father. The only one in the family seemingly still on the level is little sister Rae, until she admits that she has friends besides the age inappropriate Detective Henry Stone. Add to that the fact that Izzy's one actual paying job is to find out who is recreating the creative vandalism of her and her best friend's youth, and there are a number of fairly madcap story lines going on.

The Spellman parents are less involved in Izzy's life in this kooky follow-up to The Spellman Files as each of them has concerns of their own that make them much more self-focused but the story is no less chaotic and scattered. The plot careens forward and backwards and every which way in between, often told through Izzy's meetings with her hard of hearing, octogenarian lawyer. There are teases with promises to expand on situations later in the book and there are footnoted asides and call-backs to the first novel. The experience of reading about Izzy and her family is quite possibly the most enjoyable case of whiplash you'll ever have. It is full of diversions and pandemonium and controlled bedlam. The solutions to each of the things Izzy is investigating aren't earth shattering and in some cases might be expected but it was just a blast being with these characters again, learning more about them, seeing where they are perceptive and where they (Izzy in particular) can be blind. Probably best read after the first book so you have some frame of reference, this is a worthwhile second book and I look forward to the next one.

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