The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz. ★★★1/2
The Spellman Files is a whole lot of fun if not at all serious. In short, it’s generally what I think of as “fluffy” or “a beach read,” with excellent character and a delicious sense of humor.
Technically, The Spellman Files is classed as a mystery, but it’s really more of a family drama. The most important case doesn’t show up until the half way mark and it’s far from the focus of the book.
Instead, The Spellman Files is the story of the Spellmans, a family who runs their own PI firm. They’re dysfunctional in many ways, but still obviously love each other, which is what makes them as likable and enjoyable as they are.
Izzy Spellman is the twenty-eight year old protagonist who’s parents founded the firm. She’s always been the family troublemaker, but she’s trying to shape up her act and clean up her own messes. Still, I found that she often read as much younger as twenty-eight, and she makes some notably stupid decisions.
Izzy’s younger sister Rae, the youngest of the Spellmans at fourteen, is probably the most important secondary character, and Rae’s quite a character! She’s addicted to sugar and does “recreational surveillance” for fun, along with blackmailing her siblings to get her own way. Rae’s a whole heap of trouble, but she’s always hilarious.
Surprisingly, Izzy’s older brother David was among the best realized characters. While the “chronically perfect” older sibling is usually not one with a whole lot of development, David came off as more realistic as most, possibly due to his desire to exist independently from his family.
Izzy has something of the same desire, which is the driving plot, if there is any. The Spellman Files is a character centered novel, no doubt. Because of it’s cast of quirky and flawed yet likable characters, it succeeded in getting me to burn the midnight oil to the finish.
If you’re looking for a deftly turned plot or heightened suspense, The Spellman Files is not the book for you. But if you’re in search of a story about the oddities of families, go no farther.