The Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files #5) by Lisa Lutz
Publisher: Simon and Schuster/Feb. 2012
The Spellman Files series
Kind thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing a review copy
FOR THE FIRST TIME in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities—with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy’s brother and sister are at war—for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying “banana” even though she hates bananas.
That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother.
Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers—even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.
REVIEW (Tried to avoid spoilers, but it’s 5th in a series, soooo…:)
I am a HUGE fan of this series, so of course I was anxious to dig in to #5! It’s been a couple of years since Document #4 (The Spellmans Strike Again), and Isabel (Izzy) Spellman a PI with her families private investigation firm, is (somewhat) settled in with her boyfriend (aka Ex-Boyfriend #13) Henry Stone, her much younger sister Rae is still up to no good, and her parents are acting strangely, particularly her mother, who all of a sudden seems very interested in taking as many pottery/language/crocheting etc. courses she can fit into her schedule, and the dreaded Grammy Spellman has dropped in for a visit. All of this is pretty normal for the Spellmans, but if you’re familiar with this series, you already know that, with them, nothing is ever what it seems.
In The Trail of the Spellmans, Izzy’s smart, dry humor is still on full display, but there is a sadness about her in this one that seems more prominent. Izzy has always been a bit aimless, but at 34, she’s watching everyone around her get on with their lives, whether it be job, family, etc. Her brother David, always so perfectly put together (not so much these days), is now a stay at home dad to his 18 month old daughter Sydney, and his lawyer wife, Maggie (Henry’s ex) seems a bit frustrated with his obsession with Sydney’s learning, and there’s a rift between David and Rae all of a sudden. Izzy has been with Henry for a while and knows that he’s got something serious on his mind, but, being the queen of avoidance and evasion that she is (seriously, it’s a talent), Izzy tries to make sure she’s anywhere but the house that they share, much to my frustration! I want so badly for Izzy to find love, and the author is amazing at stretching out the tension to handwringing levels. Don’t worry, she keeps you plenty distracted with the goings on of the Spellman clan, and the cases they’ve taken on. You think your family is weird? Trust me, they’re nothing compared with this group.
The Spellmans can be a frustrating group, but they’re also a loving group. Through everything (and there’s plenty), you never once doubt their love for each other, and their hearts are as big as their propensity for snooping (ie huge.) The clients and cases are entertaining, as always, but it’s the Spellmans that are the stars of this series. This one felt like a turning point, maturity wise, for Izzy, and our favorite hard drinking PI certainly does a bit of dreaded soul searching. Where this will lead, who knows, but I do know for sure that I’ll always be along for the ride. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, I suggest you start at The Spellman Files and work your way up. You don’t have to, but you will get attached to these characters (all of them), seriously, and it makes each book that much richer, better, funnier, you name it. And yes, you will laugh, loud and often. I drive my husband crazy reading aloud to him from these books. They’re just too damn good not to share, and you should do just that. Snag a copy of each one, read them, then share them. You don’t have to love mysteries to love the Spellmans, and you’ll identify with at least one member of this crazy family. Packed with great writing, biting wit, fun mysteries, and the utter, chaotic joy that is the Spellman clan, this is a series you don’t want to miss!