Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review - The Spellman Files

I am starting to get a little behind on my reviews. I have 3 that I need to get done, but I have been spending most of my free time searching for a job, playing Words With Friends with my husband (I usually win!), and reading. Last night I finally finished reading The Curse of the Spellmans. I started it back in January, but when we moved I had to return it to the library before I could finish it. Luckily, the library here had it also so I checked it out and finished. But before I post my review of it, I wanted to post my review of The Spellman Files, which is the first book in Lisa Lutz's Spellman series. Part of this review was originally posted on Goodreads back in December, but I tweaked it and added a few additional thoughts.

The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz
Format: print
4 star

This was a great book - a fast, fun read with a loveably imperfect anti-heroine. I read it during the holidays when both my time and attention were constantly being interrupted, and had no trouble following the action. And while I do like to read books that make me think, there is also something to be said for books like this one that you read for sheer pleasure.

Izzy Spellman is a 28-year-old private detective who works for, and still lives with, her parents. Over the years, she has developed a very suspicious nature. So suspicious, in fact, that the slightest discrepancies in a person's behavior compel her to investigate that person, and it doesn't matter if it is strangers, friends, or even family members. She always asks potential ex-boyfriends a million extremely personal questions just prior to running a background check on them - a habit that has aided in more than one of her break-ups. She is also a life-long troublemaker who at times seems to have the rationale and decision making skills of teenager. But even so, she is still quick-witted and street smart.

Some people compare Izzy to Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. I guess if I stretch your imagination a little then I can see it. Both get caught up in trying to solve mysteries that should probably be left to the police. Both are "creative" with their investigative techniques, and do eventually solve the mysteries. Both are smart and funny, have trouble with men and their crazy families, and both manage to get into plenty of trouble. But that is about as far as it goes. Izzy is rather obsessive and short-sighted, while Stephanie has the ability to see the bigger picture. Stephanie also seems to have a maturity and innate luckiness that Izzy lacks. That doesn't mean that the Spellman series is not as good as the Plum series, it just means that they are unique enough to set them apart and keep them interesting.

One of the other things that sets this book apart is Lisa Lutz's writing style. She has a way of bouncing around between plot lines that could almost be confusing, but ends up holding your interest. The focus of the novel doesn't center on Izzy's attempt to solve her primary investigation, but is actually more concerned with her personal relationships. Lutz also employs several uncommon techniques to add interest to the novel including lists and footnotes (I found the footnotes a little off-putting and distracting, but lots of readers like them.) I give this book a 4 because while it was better than average, it wasn't so good that I had trouble putting it down.

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