Lisa Lutz, author of The Spellman Files
, is back with another story of the shenanigans of the Spellman family: The Curse of the Spellmans
. The "parental unit" started a private investigation business when Dad retired from police work. His wife assists him and their two daughters, Isabel, (Izzy) a 30-year-old with a habit of being arrested, and Rae, a 15-year-old Cheetos-loving teen, would like to think that they help out in the family business. Especially where Izzy is concerned, this is a stretch. Brother David is a successful attorney who has nothing to do with the family enterprise. He has troubles of his own.
Izzy has been living in the apartment of a friend while he is away. When he returns unexpectedly, it quickly becomes clear that being roommates with an old, cigar-smoking, poker-playing, big drinker isn't going to work. Izzy moves home temporarily and then the fun begins. She decides that their new next door neighbor, John Brown, whose landscape gardening business she judges to be a cover, is somehow making women disappear. She gets herself invited to dinner, discovers a locked room, believes his name is phony, follows him everywhere, has a restraining order against her, and still she can't let it go.
Meanwhile, Rae has befriended a great guy, a cop named Henry Stone, who is almost too good to be true. The reader starts pulling for him and Izzy to get together right away, even though he doesn't deserve the aggravation. Lutz keeps the ball rolling faster and faster with David's problems, her parents' frequent vacations, which they refer to as "disappearances," and the fact that everyone in the family has secrets from one another. If there is any curse at work here, it is that all the family members are terminally nosy. What they discover about each other and the other players keeps you turning pages and hoping that Lutz is hard at work on the next installment of this zany family's misadventures. --Valerie Ryan
From Publishers Weekly
This lighthearted romp, focusing on the antics of Isabel Spellman and her family of private detectives, is delightful. There's not much vocal variation by Ari Graynor for the mystery's female characters: 30-year-old Isabel sounds exactly like her teen sister and her mother. But Graynor shines portraying some of the male characters, like Morty, the Spellmans' elderly lawyer, or Isabel's slurring, cigar-smoking roommate. Isabel digitally records conversations, and Graynor recites them back in a hilarious deadpan rendition. Lutz's first outing (The Spellman Files
) was fresh, funny and unwieldy; her plotting skills take a leap forward here, masterfully juggling several compelling mystery threads at a time. The quirky Spellman family is still fun, and Graynor's sardonic and sly delivery doesn't attempt to upstage the writing. One disappointment is that S&S didn't release an unabridged version.
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