Monday, March 21, 2011
Review: The Curse of the Spellmans
Lisa Lutz has charmed me again with Curse of the Spellmans, the sequel to one of my favorite reads ever, The Spellman Files. In this book, main character Izzy Spellman has gotten herself into deep water. She is a private investigator in a family with a private investigating business. Her problem? She can't seem to keep herself out of jail. One more arrest and she could lose her P.I. license. But Izzy isn't about to stop snooping on her ex-boyfriend turned possible murderer. She'll do whatever it takes to get to the truth. This witty and funny novel is fast-paced and will keep you laughing from beginning to end.
I was so excited when I saw this book for super duper cheap at bookcloseouts.com in November, and I had to buy it. I read the first book years ago when a book-of-the-month club my mom is in sent her the wrong book. She decided to keep it, and I read it and fell in love with the Spellman family. They are a quirky bunch, each with a very distinct personality. Izzy, the narrator, has always been my favorite character for her wit and major attitude problems.
One of the things I love about this book (and the first one as well) is its format. Because Izzy is a P.I., the whole book is pretty much written like a long case file. I especially love the footnotes at the bottom of the pages, where Izzy explains stories, TV shows, and family members. It's such a unique (and often super funny) way of telling a story, and Lisa Lutz does it perfectly. Another thing I really appreciate is Izzy's obsession with an old TV show called Get Smart. I haven't had the honor of seeing it yet, but I myself am obsessed with a TV show from around the same time period called The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In The Spellman Files (book 1), Izzy was constantly referencing Get Smart episodes. Curse of the Spellmans doesn't refer to it as much, but it does include a lot of hilarious scenes (and footnotes!) about the TV show Dr. Who, which I've never seen but am now very compelled to.
While reading book 2, I loved examining how the characters have grown and developed since book 1. They are all still as funny as ever, but in this book I really feel like I know them. They are also very real because they have very real faults, just like you and me (because *gasp* even the best of us are not perfect!). One of my favorite things in Curse of the Spellmans was the relationship between Rae (Izzy's 15 year old little sister) and Henry (a friend of Izzy's who is a 40 something year old detective). Rae for some reason thinks Henry is her best friend and is constantly at his office and apartment. Henry should be really annoyed, but he actually turns their meetings into something constructive. He makes Rae do her homework and helps her study, something her family could never get her to do. Their relationship is so sweet and so well developed, and I love it because it's so innocent. They really are just friends, and it's funny when Rae's teachers just can't comprehend that. I also love how confused Izzy got over the situation at times. Some chapters are supposed to be transcripts from recordings she makes of Rae and Henry's conversations (she is of course a P.I. and also investigating her weird family members), and those chapters had me laughing really hard. Rae and Henry are so cute together.
Here is a passage about the Rae-Henry relationship:
Pages 24-25: (Izzy is narrating) The primary conflict between Henry and my sister was how they should go about defining their relationship-not to each other, but to other people. The first time this problem arose was when Henry's boss, Lieutenant Osborn, entered Stone's office shortly after Rae's arrival.
"Henry," the lieutenant said pleasantly, "is this nice young lady an informant?"
To which Rae, genuinely flattered, replied, "No. We're just good friends."
The lieutenant gave Inspector Stone a double-take, handed him a case file, and left the office with a cordial nod of the head.
"In the future, Rae, it's probably best if you don't refer to me as your friend."
"But we are friends, right?"
"I guess so," Stone reluctantly replied, unable to come up with another definition. "But just don't say it out loud."
This book was great. Because of it's format, it's a super quick read. I read it in one weekend when I was sick with a nasty cold and sore throat. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves funny books, a good mystery, and seriously witty and sarcastic characters. I'm super psyched that there are two other books in the series out now! I really, really enjoyed Curse of the Spellmans!
A fave quote:
Page 84: (Izzy, on her arrests for snooping on her very suspicious-looking ex-boyfriend) "I have many flaws, but I suppose the only one that truely damages my life is that I believe all questions have answers and I believe that I am entitled to those answers."
Title: Curse of the Spellmans
Author: Lisa Lutz
Date of Publication: 2009 for paperback edition
Number of Pages: 480
Source: Personal Copy