Publication Order of Izzy Spellman Books
|The Spellman Files||(2007)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Curse of the Spellmans||(2008)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Revenge of the Spellmans||(2009)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Spellmans Strike Again||(2010)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|Trail of the Spellmans||(2012)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
|The Last Word||(2013)||Hardcover Paperback Kindle|
Isabel Izzy’ Spellman is the main heroine and the narrator of a six part series of humorous mystery novels written by the American author Lisa Lutz. The series, named simply “The Spellmans” for the set of main characters, was published between 2007 and 2013. Aside from the six novels, the series also includes a one-shot e-book, “Isabel Spellman’s Guide to Etiquette”, which further explores the much beloved character. Except for the “The Spellmans” series, Lisa Lutz is also an accomplished author of several mystery and thriller novels for adults, as well as for children.
The main protagonist of Lutz’s most successful novels is described by author as “equal parts Sam Spade and Bridget Jones”. Isabel Spellman is a troubled young female detective from San Francisco who is a member of a curious, dysfunctional family who all live under the same roof. Olivia and Albert, her mother and father, are co-owners of their own P.I. agency, Spellman Investigations, where Izzy is one of the employees. Because of their intrusive and nosy nature they are always spying and putting pressure on Izzy who has a chronic unlock with men. Izzy’s older brother David, who escaped the family business and turned to a very successful career as a lawyer, is always looking over her shoulder, ready to criticize Izzy for just about everything. Uncle Ray, an ex-cop addicted to gambling, alcohol and healthy food, maybe good-natured but is also constantly disappearing, which means Izzy must go out looking for him way too often. And her teenage sister Rae, who is most of the time indulged in “recreational surveillance”, keeps a close eye on all of them, looking for opportunities to tap wire, spy and blackmail the members of the family.
Under these circumstances it is no wonder that Izzy herself turned into an obsessive and rigid person who is prone to violent outbursts and alcohol abuse, but is also a brilliant detective in her own rights. She is a strong character, energetic and quirky, but very likable. Her mind is bordering on paranoid, as is the case with all members of the Spellman clan. Her love affairs always start as infatuations that quickly turn into obsessions, as her love interests become “subjects” in what soon turns out to be criminal inquiry and investigation. At the beginning of the series she is twenty-eight years old, she is addicted to Get Smart reruns and is on the verge of another case-turned-affair relationship. Most of the humor and lure of the series is derived from her interactions with other equally quirky and likable characters, with whom she shares both a strong affiliation and a deep distrust.
“The Spellman Files”, first novel in the “The Spellmans” series, was published in 2007. Written in first person, from the point of view of Izzy herself, the novel introduces the reader to the Spellman family, which we soon learn is populated with eccentric and intriguing characters. Izzy’ latest case – one involving a handsome Latino dentist whose wife believes him to be gay – turns out to be more then she expected when she gets romantically involved with her target. But as she learns that her own parents, distrustful of her romantic choices, had her followed by no other then her own sister, it’s the drop that spilled the cup for Izzy. In a burst of rage she decides to quit the family business. But before she can do that, however, she is forced by her contract with the agency into accepting one last job – this one going back to a “cold case” of a missing person from the early days of her own P.I. career. At first thrilled to finish the job and get on with her life away from her family, Izzy is soon faced with a sudden disappearance of her own sister Rae, which turns out to be the most important missing person case of her career.
The novel was a New York Times bestseller and an ALA Alex award nominee. It is a hilarious read, witty and fast-paced, with an absorbing atmosphere and a peculiar non-linear narrative. Following the narrator’s line of thought, most of the story is told in forms of case reports and transcripts of recordings. It was compared favorably to the “Stephanie Plum” novels by Janet Evanovich and the work of Carl Hiaasen.
At the beginning of the “Curse of the Spellmans”, the second book in the series published in 2008, we find Izzy in jail – being arrested and sent there for the fourth time in three months. She meets with Morty, her eighty-year-old lawyer who is the only one willing to help her, as her family and employers, the Spellman Investigations agency, gave up on her and refused to pay the bail. As she reveals to Morty in a lengthy conversation, it seems that the members of the Spellman family have been acting even more bizarre than usual, which prompted Izzy to start compiling Suspicious Behavior Reports on her mother, father, and brother. At the same time, Izzy started to obsessively investigate her new neighbor and love interest, the good-looking but suspiciously reluctant John Brown. Her sister Rae is on her own mission of spying and stalking, this time concerning her forty-year-old “best friend” inspector Stone; and to make things even more complicated, Izzy has to resolve the mystery of a copycat vandal who reprises an episode from her and her best friend Petra’s adolescent years.
Nominated for Edgar and Ma cavity Awards for Best Novels, the second book in the series follows the successful formula of the first book. The whole narrative is told from Izzy’s point of view, with the plot jumping form one point to another, interspersed with lists, transcripts and footnotes, and even including an appendix at the end. Chapters are short and fast-paced, with many humorous elements that fuel up the story. As with the first novel, the detective procedure and mystery elements fade into background to make room for the character interactions and the sassy language of the narrator.
Because of its briskly humor “The Spellmans” novels are a most-read even for those who don’t necessarily enjoy the mystery genre.Book Series In Order » Characters » Izzy Spellman