Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Spellman Files (The Spellmans, #1)The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Lisa Lutz's debut novel "The Spellman Files" reads like young adult fiction, with an adolescent main theme and most characters, even those in their fifties, behaving like teenagers. Still, despite its implausibility and immaturity, despite the total lack of depth, I quite like this book - it is well written and funny.

Isabel Spellman is a young woman who works as an investigator for her parents' PI agency in San Francisco. She has a history of various transgressions, particularly during her juvenile years: vandalism, drugs and alcohol abuse leading to vomiting in her mother's flower bed, and the like. Not only Isabel, but also the entire family is rather unconventional. They are obsessed with spying and collecting dirt on each other so that they could use the information for purposes of intrafamilial blackmail. Yes, Isabel blackmails her parents, siblings extort money from each other and from the parents, etc. Haven't I mentioned that the story is not very plausible? Yet it is pretty funny (although the taillight smashing episode is a bit too much).

The novel does not contain much of mystery component; the detective part of the plot begins on page 187 (in the hardcover edition), but is relatively interesting and has a clever denouement. Overall, Ms. Lutz has delivered a light and pleasant read, except for a smarmy Acknowledgments section.

Three stars.

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