The Spellman Files

By Lisa Lutz

Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007

Genre: Mystery

Series: Izzy Spellman mysteries; 1

ISBN: 9781416532392

Intended audience: adult

Number of pages: 358

Settings: Mainly San Francisco, CA but also Marin county and Reno, NV

Time period: contemporary

Plot summary: 28 year old Izzy Spellman comes from a family of private investigators; she started working in the family business as a teenager and never left.   Consequently, her perspective on life is a bit different from the average Jo’s.  When Izzy finally realizes that her family is dysfunctional to the point where she will never have any privacy in her life, she decides that she wants out of the family business.  Only leaving the business is not as easy as just quitting.

Appeal factors:

Pacing: Fast pace with lots of short dialogue.

Characterization: Told in first person through Izzy.  The story is filled with quirky characters (mainly in the Spellman family).

Frame: The snooping and spying nature of the Spellman family permeates the lives of all of the Spellmans and everyone with whom they associate.

Story line: An entertaining story about the dangers of mixing family and business lives.

Subject headings:

From PCPL:

Private investigators — Fiction.

Domestic fiction.

Similar authors:

Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series

Personal notes: I found this book to be amusing, but not great.  The family was certainly dysfunctional, but none of the characters or situations seemed remotely believable to me.

Other (themes, diversity): Diversity – female private investigator

Winner of a 2008 Alex Award (an outstanding adult book which introduces teens to adult literature)

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