Curse of the Spellmans- Lisa Lutz

In the second book in the Spellman series, Isabel Spellman finds herself surrounded by suspicious behavior.  She becomes obsessed with her neighbor’s odd habits.  He gardens.  He shreds an awful lot of paper for a gardener.  He has a locked room inside his house.  Her obsession gets her arrested four times, but she can’t tear herself away from the case until it is solved.

Izzy’s father has started to take a strange interest in salads, while Izzy’s mother has taken to vandalizing a stranger’s motor bike.  Rae, Izzy’s sister, is actually acting like a normal teenager, rousing suspicion when she is caught talking on the phone to age-appropriate friends.  David, Izzy’s brother, is married to Petra, Izzy’s best friend, but neither of them is responding to phone calls.  Milo, Izzy’s loyal bartender, has been acting particularly cantankerous lately.  And a series of vandalizations (identical to those of the 1992-93 school year) of Mrs. Chandler’s holiday yard art has popped up.

With all that suspicious behavior, Isabel has no choice but to investigate everyone in her life all over again!  I really enjoy this series.  It is just a ton of fun.  The characters are funny and quirky and you will love them, despite their misbehavior.  The mysteries in this book were a little better than those in the first, or at least, I didn’t figure any of them out before they were revealed.  And I like the introduction of the Henry Stone character (Rae and Izzy’s friend, a policeman) as his rule-abiding, clean-living seems to complement Izzy’s character quite well.  Again, I highly recommend this series as a change of pace for those times when you just want something light-hearted and fun with loads of quirky characters and a side of mystery.

I read/reviewed this book in conjunction with the Series Catch-Up 2012.  Sign-ups are still open, so join us if you’re looking to catch up on some series before the year ends!

The Spellman Files- Lisa Lutz

Isabel Spellman is a private investigator at her family’s PI firm.  She’s a (mostly) reformed bad girl who loves her job and her family, but isn’t totally sold on working for her very crazy family.  Izzy’s family spies on one another, bribes one another, blackmails one another, damages one another’s property, invades one another’s privacy, and takes revenge on one another.  Izzy tries to separate herself from the family business after being tailed and phone-tapped for weeks on end by her parents.  However, she gets sucked into two missing persons cases that she has to finish before she leaves the firm forever.

Oh, this book was just so much fun.  Izzy’s family is crazy and pretty over-the-top, but there is no question that these people love another.  Rae, Izzy’s teenage sister, is also an awesome and very funny character, who is dangerously smart for her age and is fully absorbed into the PI life.  While the mysteries in this book were entertaining (though I figured out one of the missing persons cases early on), what really made this book special was its characters and their ridiculous relationships with one another.  This family wars with one another, makes up with one another, checks up one another, and tries to protect one another from a variety of evils.  It’s sweet that no matter what bad things they do, they still care about one another… even if that care manifests itself in the form of 24-hour surveillance.  All I can say is that I am glad this is not my family!

There are several more (not sure exact number) in this series and I plan on reading them, as I thought this was a really fun ride with some excellent and memorable characters.  If you like your mysteries with a cast of a funny, crazy characters, you will likely get a kick out of this series.