#505 ~ The Spellman Files

Cover of The Spellman Files
The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

Published by: Simon and Schuster

Published on: February 12, 2008

Page Count: 384

Genre: Mystery

My Reading Format: Personal paperback copy

Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook

Related Review: Heads You Lose

Summary from the Publisher

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors — but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who’s become addicted to “recreational surveillance”); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed “Lost Weekends”). But when Izzy’s parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy’s new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go — a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

My Review

I bought the entire Spellman series while reading Heads You Lose. I loved the humor and the irreverence so much that I wanted more. Why it took me so long to take the first book in the series, The Spellman Files, I do not know. I found myself in a place where I just couldn’t get satisfied with anything I was reading. I was browsing my bookshelves and the red color drew my eye. I picked it up and started reading. The next thing I knew, I was 50 pages in, laughing all the way. I love this dysfunctional family of private investigators who can’t leave their work at the office because their office is their home. Honestly, even if they had an office outside of the home this family would have lived together any differently. As much as they got under each other’s skin, they were meant for each other. For better or worse, I don’t think there is a single Spellman who would have life any other way.

Heads You Lose was a different novel, but while reading The Spellman Files there was much that felt familiar. I was pleased to find that Heads You Lose was both a fun read and a portal to a series I would instantly love. The way Lisa Lutz tells stories appeals so much to me. Her humor and the way she crafts her characters with just the right doses of eccentricity are priceless. I enjoyed the family’s back story just as much as Izzy’s cases. I especially enjoyed watching Izzy and Rae rub off on each other. Izzy may be the adult older sister, but she has a thing or two to learn from Rae, who has had the luxury of cherry picking from among the best lessons her older siblings have learned along the way.

In a year where I’m focusing a little more novels in series, The Spellman Files fit like a glove. It broke through my restlessness and simply made me happy. There is so much emotional territory to explore with this family and I am looking forward to every page that is to come.


  • At 2013.03.01 04:48, Meghan said:

    It’s great to discover a new series that makes you happy! I’ve never read this one but it sounds like fun.

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    • At 2013.03.01 14:51, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

      A friend of mine loves this series and tells me all the time that I need to read it.

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      • At 2013.03.02 09:48, Red Headed Book Child said:

        These books are some of my favorites. i was able to see her tour for Heads you Lose. She’s just as hilarious as her books.


        • At 2013.03.03 08:01, Elisabeth said:

          I am currently reading Revenge of the Spellmans, the third in the series. You have a lot of fun reading to look forward to!

          • At 2013.03.03 19:33, Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting said:

            I’ve only read the third in the series (and enjoyed it), but I’ve bought the second as well–although I haven’t yet got my hands on the first!

            • At 2013.03.07 08:04, Janet S. said:

              I’m always happy to hear when someone “discovers” the Spellmans as I’ve been reading them a long time. I saw Lisa Lutz in person and learned that unfortunately, she’s a bit tired of writing them. Also, Heads You Lose was not a great commercial success so that one probably won’t become a series. Whatever we get from Lisa in the future, I’m sure it will be wonderful.

              (Required, will not be published)

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