Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

trail-of-the-spellmans coverYou wouldn’t think another book about the misadventures of Izzy Spellman would continue to be interesting. After all, most of the Spellman Files books follow the same basic premise: Isabel Spellman, a 34-year-old private investigator, never acts her age and constantly gets herself in trouble by bucking the rules and doing what she feels is right no matter what. The thing is though, I like each one of these books more than the last.

In this novel, Izzy and her father are working on cases with conflicting interests, and he refuses to share information with her. Their conflict escalates, because Izzy is sure there is something suspicious about the clients and her father won’t listen to her. Meanwhile, her mother has taken up a plethora of extra-curricular activities with no explanation, and is never home. David has thrown Rae out of the apartment below his house and refuses to give anyone an explanation. Rae has been surveilling a 18-year-old girl with paranoid parents, but has been faking the surveillance reports. And finally, Demetrius Merriweather, wrongly-convicted man freed by Izzy and her sister-in-law Maggie in Document #4 is living in the Spellman house, and Izzy’s mother is determined to find him a girlfriend.

This might sound like a ridiculous amount of mysterious to some, but for Izzy it is just a day in the life of San Francisco’s more irreverent PI. Throughout the novel, Izzy solves all these problems by spying on and interrogating both family and clients alike. The novel is full of both humor, surprises, and tender moments that teach a lesson for both Izzy and the reader. Izzy actually starts to grow up a little in this novel and think about her future, which hasn’t happened often before. She gets along better with her family members–but not well enough to not have amusing Spellman family dinners of course. Old characters like Bernie make reappearances, and new characters show up too, like Granny Spellman and Henry Stone’s mother Gerty. I especially liked Gerty and how different she was from Henry, and how well she and Izzy got along. SMALL SPOILER ALERT: Gerty eventually meets and falls in love with Bernie, a relationship Izzy desperately wants to sabotage, and watching her collect affidavits from Bernie’s previous girlfriends (some available to read in the Appendix!) is pretty hilarious.

In this novel, Izzy spends more time interacting with her older brother David, his wife Maggie, and their 18-month old daughter Sydney. I loved seeing more of David and Maggie, they are my favorite characters, aside from Izzy of course. I missed Rae though, since she wasn’t in this book as often, and Izzy did not have much interaction with Henry Stone either, so that was a bummer. Granny Spellman and Demetrious made up for their absence though, so I didn’t mind too much, and it was nice to read about characters that were a little different. I like Lisa Lutz and the Spellman Files book a lot, and I’ll definitely keep reading them.

Happy reading,

-Branwen

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