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Trail of the Spellmans: Document #5 Paperback – May 21, 2013

142 customer reviews
Book 5 of 6 in the Spellman Mysteries Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Private investigator Isabel “Izzy” Spellman is not your typical gumshoe. In fact, everything about the thirtysomething San Francisco sleuth is a bit offbeat, from her quirky family to the curious cases she takes on. In this fifth installment (after The Spellmans Strike Again, 2010) in Lutz’s irreverent series, Izzy is submerged in surveillance, monitoring the movements of a devious UC Berkeley coed and keeping close watch on the apartment of a fastidious math professor. Meanwhile, Izzy’s mother, Olivia, engages in an eclectic collection of extracurricular activities, including a Russian-language class in which she learns such valuable phrases as “The gentleman will pay for everything.” Isabel bonds with her boyfriend’s mother while ignoring her beau’s repeated requests to discuss their unraveling relationship. And siblings David and Rae butt heads over Rae’s perverse influence upon David’s infant daughter. With each entry, Lutz’s plots, while amusing, have become a bit more predictable. All the same, this is a wise (and wisecracking) choice for mystery readers seeking a break from the genre’s bloodier fare. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Hilarious, but also tender and melancholy and full of hard-won wisdom. This one's going to stay with readers for a long time." (Laura Lippman, author of I’d Know You Anywhere and the Tess Monaghan series)

“Engaging….Lutz’s dry, biting humor is in full force.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A wise (and wise-cracking) choice for mystery readers seeking a break from the genre’s bloodier fare.” (Booklist)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (May 21, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451608136
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451608137
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spellman Files, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, The Spellmans Strike Again, Trail of the Spellmans and Heads you Lose (with David Hayward). Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor's degree. Lisa spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. How to Negotiate Everything a children's book (illustrated by Jaime Temairik) will be released in 2013 along with The Last Word, the sixth installment in the Spellman series. Lisa lives in a town you've never heard of in upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Yolanda S. Bean VINE VOICE on February 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is one of the most fun, laugh-out-loud series that I have ever read. After the fourth installment, The Spellmans Strike Again: A Novel (Izzy Spellman Mysteries), I had believed Internet rumours that said it would be the last Spellman book, so my delight was tremendous when I first heard about this book's imminent publication (and don't worry, this time the Internet is very upfront that an additional two books have been contracted in the series!)

I love Lutz's writing style and sense of humour - in fact, I first read The Spellman Files: A Novel in 2008, and have since re-read it aloud on a road trip, and just for fun to myself several times over these four years. I would definitely recommend reading them in order, though Lutz provides appendices to fill in out-of-order-readers, I think you will the whole experience more enjoyable if you read them in order - and it is certainly worth it!

In the two years since we last saw the Spellman family, plenty of changes have taken place and right from the beginning, there is plenty of excitement, intrigue and family feuds. I loved the whole book - I think I smiled the entire time, and actually read it in one sitting, so my face was quite sore afterwards! It was just a joy to read! The worst part was coming to the last page, knowing that it will be a long wait before the sixth book is published...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By bookmagic VINE VOICE on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
P.I. Izzie Spellman somewhat has her life on track. She has been living with Henry for a couple years now but she is avoiding him because a) his mother is visiting and b) he wants to have THE talk. So Izzie busies herself with solving some mysteries around her family. One, her mother has suddenly filled up all her free time with yoga, crochet classes, Russian classes. Izzie is determined to find out why. Also, her brother David has thrown out their younger sister Rae from his house's basement apartment. But neither of them will say why.
Izzie is also concerned about some cases her parents have accepted. But if she does the right thing, she risks getting fired from the family business.

I have read all of the Spellman books and I am so happy I discovered this series and I hope Lutz keeps writing them. This latest offering maintains all the humor and craziness of the others. Even with Izzie showing more maturity, the series has not lost any of it's fun and uniqueness. I loved and highly recommend this book. But if you haven't read any of these books, you really do need to start at the beginning. I personally am planning a reread of them all.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By E. Griffin VINE VOICE on February 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Trail of the Spellmans is the fifth book in the series featuring the smart, funny, and exceptionally eccentric Spellman family. Subtitled Document #5, the book features Isabel Spellman, the family's oldest daughter and the only child working full time in the their family-owned investigative firm.

The work aspects of the book focus on several cases that are unique in either the subjects or that the Spellmans find that that there really isn't anything to investigate. When two of the cases over lap, the family institutes "Chinese walls" to protect client confidentiality. As fans of this series already know, any secret between family members is an immediate signal for one or more of them to devise innovative ways to discover the truth.

Even more enjoyable is the dynamics of the Spellman family. The family home, which is also where the office is, has opened its doors to include an ex-con released from prison after falsely being convicted of murder, and Grandmother Spellman, a cranky and weight obsessed senior citizen. Everyone's interactions with Grandmother Spellman are hysterical, and the affect the Grandmother has on Isabel's mother is slyly humorous.

Along with the dysfunctional family fun and human interest stories from surveillance, Trail of the Spellmans includes several serious notes. Isabel is struggling to define what she wants from life, and faces an ethical business dilemma between the right thing to do and the rules of the business. To avoid spoiling the story, I will only say that all three of the Spellman children inch further towards adulthood in this book.

The Spellman series is one of my favorites, it is consistently delightful and enjoyable to read, and always offers a fresh perspective on something. You don't need to read the first four books to enjoy Trail of the Spellmans, but I can promise that if you haven't read them yet, you will once you finish this book!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CRH on August 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ugh! I don't understand authors that take a break from a series or characters for years only to come back and mess everything up where they had left off. (Jennifer Weiner did this too and I hated it!) Izzy is just totally annoying in this book. Can she ever evolve beyond a teenager in her mindset? It just gets boring after a while. You just always know that Izzy is going to mess everything up but then come through at the end and show she has a heart of gold. So cliche at the fifth book.

Spoiler! Why spend all the time to get Izzy and Henry together over several books to just break them up again?? The grandmother Spellman was the only character I liked in this one. Plus the released inmate. The explanation of how Rae became a super human at negotiation was kind of funny, but unrealistic. Overall, I would stop with book four in the series.
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