The Spellman Files (Books 1-4)
by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
My friend T, pushed the first book into my hand, “You’re going to love it.” I was a bit skeptical, I mean this from a lover of Twilight, but she was also the one who made me read Room and The Hunger Games, so I usually give her the benefit of the doubt. Needless to say I consumed the four books in Lisa Lutz’s series like I was eating slices of pizza. I should probably take a break and read something for work but om nom nom, soooo good. It’s not literary genius but it goes down easy and makes you want more. Kind of like crack. Book crack.
Isabel Spellman is a twenty-something private detective born into a family of private detectives, save her perfect older brother who managed to escape into law. If you were ever a fan of the fantastic (and sadly underrated) TV show Veronica Mars, you would probably think being a family of private detectives is full of fun hijinks ala Keith & Veronica, kicking ass and taking names together, a beautiful portrait of a father-daughter bond. Well, when it comes to the Spellmans, it’s a heck of a lot more dysfunctional, but just as hilarious. It’s the Veronica Mars of the future, if they hadn’t prematurely cancelled the show, left a storyline up in the air, and ruined my life.
The thing about the Spellman family is that they are very very good detectives and they have no sense of personal space or privacy. This is the theme that pretty much runs through the entire series, that and the side story of how Isabel is horribly immature with a pretty shitty love life, but to be fair, you would have a hard time hanging onto a guy too if you referred to every one you met as Exboyfriend #[insert here] and had a mother who tailed your dates and constantly tried to backseat drive your life. I guess the lesson here, is that even if families sometimes go too far, they do it out of love… and nosiness… and misguided suspicion. Also, sometimes they have you arrested, just for kicks.
The Spellman Files series is good, quick-reading, fun. You’ll get attached to the family, like a mangy looking stray cat that eats all your food and purrs too loud that your boyfriend brought home and then guilted you into keeping. You’ll also learn a lot of life lessons without actually having to live them, like everything is negotiable, or, if you think you’re being followed you probably are, and if you want something the best way to get it isn’t to be direct, but to manipulate and con your way into getting it. I’ve already implemented some of these into my own life. Zen and the art of the Spellmans.
The newest book in the series, Trail of the Spellmans comes out February 28, 2012, and by my own sleuthing (T may have tipped me off) a movie version is in development (please let them cast Kristen Bell). Veronica Mars seasons 1-3 are available on dvd, do yourself a favour and watch them if you haven’t already.