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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book Review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz



I think I'm in love with Lisa Lutz. Of course, you wouldn't know it from how I treated her debut novel, The Spellman Files; it sat on my nightstand for several weeks after its release last year, finally making its way to the land that reading forgot--aka my dusty mule of a bookcase. I initially bought the book for its awesome cover, which reminded me of Galt Niederhoffer's A Taxonomy of Barnacles (also banished to the "land" soon after its release--moment of silence). I knew it was a humorous take on the mystery genre, sort of a Running with Scissors meets CSI only cozier, what I didn't know was; it was lying wait to charm my pants off (not literally, I am, as a rule, pro-pants, or at the very least, shorts). It was by pure chance that my book club chose the Spellman's for our February ritual. And by "chance," I mean the person who selected the book (not me) was heavily influenced by another person (me).

Here's a bit of a blurb, any more is saying too much...

Izzy Spellman is searching for a missing person from a decades-old cold case, a future ex-boyfriend and a life away from her crazy family, all of whom are detectives, even her manipulative little sister Rae. Secrets and lies abound as this dysfunctional pack of gumshoes wage a surveillance war that is both hilarious and telling.

Lutz's style is frenetic and wacky and footnoted (so you know I was hooked from the get-go). She's woven a story that in a less-talented writer's hands could have come off as maudlin and sappy into a truly comic tale that speaks to the effects of lost childhood and the cycles of alcoholism, without any of the pesky tear-soaked melodrama. Did I mention I was laughing out loud? Not chuckling, mind you but big guttural guffaws. Seriously.

Well done Ms. Lutz. I'll be watching you, but not in a stalkery way. I'm too lazy to get out of the car to bust a taillight.
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The sequel, Curse of the Spellmans, is in stores now!

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