The New York Times
Curse of the Spellmans: Document #2by Lisa Lutz
In this sidesplittingly funny follow-up to the New York Times bestselling The Spellman Files, San Francisco’s own highly functioning yet supremely dysfunctional family of private investigators are back on the case in another mystery full of suspicion, surveillance, humor, and surprise from award-winning author Lisa Lutz. Curse of the Spellmans was nominated for both the Edgar Award and the Macavity Award, and the Izzy Spellman Mysteries have earned comparisons to everything from Carl Hiaasen and Janet Evanovich to Veronica Mars and Bridget Jones.
When Izzy Spellman, PI, is arrested for the fourth time in three months, she writes it off as a job hazard. She’s been (obsessively) keeping surveillance on a suspicious next door neighbor (suspect’s name: John Brown), convinced he’s up to no good—even if her parents (the management at Spellman Investigations) are not.
When the (displeased) management refuses to bail Izzy out, it is Morty, Izzy’s octogenarian lawyer, who comes to her rescue. But before he can build a defense, he has to know the facts. Over weak coffee and diner sandwiches, Izzy unveils the whole truth and nothing but the truth—as only she, a thirty-year-old licensed professional, can.
When not compiling Suspicious Behavior Reports on all her family members, staking out her neighbor, or trying to keep her sister, Rae, from stalking her “best friend,” Inspector Henry Stone, Izzy has been busy attempting to apprehend the copycat vandal whose attacks on Mrs. Chandler’s holiday lawn tableaux perfectly and eerily match a series of crimes from 1991–92, when Izzy and her best friend, Petra, happened to be at their most rebellious and delinquent. As Curse of the Spellmans unfolds, it’s clear that Morty may be on retainer, but Izzy is still very much on the case...er, cases—her own and that of every other Spellman family member.
Lisa Lutz brings her trademark wit and humor back in what Publishers Weekly calls a “sparkling sequel.” (Re)meet the Spellmans, a family in which eavesdropping is a mandatory skill, locks are meant to be picked, past missteps are never forgotten, and blackmail is the preferred form of negotiation—all in the name of unconditional love.
The New York Times
This lighthearted romp, focusing on the antics of Isabel Spellman and her family of private detectives, is delightful. There's not much vocal variation by Ari Graynor for the mystery's female characters: 30-year-old Isabel sounds exactly like her teen sister and her mother. But Graynor shines portraying some of the male characters, like Morty, the Spellmans' elderly lawyer, or Isabel's slurring, cigar-smoking roommate. Isabel digitally records conversations, and Graynor recites them back in a hilarious deadpan rendition. Lutz's first outing (The Spellman Files) was fresh, funny and unwieldy; her plotting skills take a leap forward here, masterfully juggling several compelling mystery threads at a time. The quirky Spellman family is still fun, and Graynor's sardonic and sly delivery doesn't attempt to upstage the writing. One disappointment is that S&S didn't release an unabridged version. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 14). (Apr.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In this sequel to Lutz's side-splittingly funny debut novel, The Spellman Files, licensed P.I. Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has been arrested for the fourth time in two months, and no one from her oddball family of fellow investigators will bail her out. Her sister, Rae, has run over Izzy's "fiancé," Inspector Henry Stone, during a driving lesson. The senior Spellmans have staged a "disappearance," their term for a vacation where no one can reach them. To complicate Izzy's life further, a man with the suspiciously ordinary name of John Brown has moved next door, and she's absolutely positive he's up to no good. In other words, it's life as usual for the zany Spellmans, and who knows what will happen next. Once again, Lutz treats readers to a madcap roller-coaster ride. Fans of such hilarious sleuths as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, Meg Cabot's Heather Wells, and Sarah Strohmeyer's Bubbles Yablonsky will find that Izzy Spellman can make them laugh their socks off, too. Sure to be popular in fiction collections of all sizes. [See Prepub Alert, LJ11/15/07.]
Shelley Mosley Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
—THE GLOBE AND MAIL
“WEIRDLY LOVABLE SNOOPS.”—USA TODAY
“A madcap roller coaster ride.” —Library Journal
“Whip-smart sass.” —People
“She’s part Bridget Jones, part Columbo. Lisa Lutz’s resilient PI Isabel Spellman emerges as a thoroughly unusual heroine.”
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Read an Excerpt
SUBJECT MOVES INTO 1797 CLAY STREET...
Sunday, January 8
I have trouble with beginnings. For one thing, I don't find stories all that interesting when you start at the beginning. If you ask me, you only know there is a story when you get to the middle. And besides, beginnings are hard to determine. One could argue that the true beginning to all stories is the beginning of time. But Morty is already eighty-two years old, so given our time constraints, I'll begin this story on the date I met, or, more specifically, first laid eyes on "John Brown" (hereafter referred to as "Subject" or by some variation of his alias, "John Brown").
I remember the day that Subject moved in next door to my parents like it was yesterday. He was taking over the second-story apartment of a triplex, previously occupied by Mr. Rafter, whose tenancy lasted close to thirty years. David knew Mr. Rafter better than I since his bedroom was six feet from Rafter's den and their windows were level enough to provide each a fishbowl view of the other. Since Rafter spent most of his time watching television in his den and David spent most of his time studying in his bedroom, the two men got to know each other in their respective comfortable silences (minus the sounds of the television, that is).
But I digress. As I said, I remember the day Subject moved in next door like it was yesterday. And I suppose the reason I remember it so vividly is because of the events that transpired earlier that day, the events that caused me to be at my family's home at the precise moment Subject's moving truck double-parked out front. So, I'm thinking I should probably start earlier that day and mention the aforementioned events.
I woke in my bed, or, more precisely, the bed in the home of Bernie Peterson, a retired SFPD lieutenant whom I sublet from. My illegal residence in the Richmond district is exactly 2.8 miles and one giant hill away from my parents' home, but I'm always just a phone call away.
The phone rang, like it always does, before I'd had enough coffee to face the day.
"Isabel, it's Mom."
"I'm not in the mood for this today."
"Not ringing a bell. When did we meet?"
"Listen to me very carefully; I don't want to repeat myself. I need you to pick up Rae from the hospital."
"Is she all right?" I asked, concern altering the tone of my voice.
"She's fine. But Henry isn't."
"She ran him over."
"With a car, Isabel."
"I got that part, Mom."
"Izzy, I'm in the middle of a job. I have to go. Please get all the details of what went down. As usual, record everything. Call me when you get home."
San Francisco General Hospital
The woman at the reception desk told me that only immediate family would be allowed in Henry's room. I flashed my quarter-carat engagement ring and asked if fiancées qualified.
A nurse directed me toward room 873 and explained that he was in serious, but stable, condition.
"Can you tell me what happened?" I asked the nurse.
"Your daughter is with him now. I'll let her explain."
I found my sister, Rae, sitting by Inspector Henry Stone's bedside, staring at the electronic device monitoring his vitals.
Henry's nurse tried to smile over her annoyance at Rae's hypervigilant announcements.
"Seventy-two. His heart rate went up by five beats," Rae said as I entered.
My sister's eyes were bloodshot and her flushed cheeks showed signs of recent crying. The nurse looked relieved when she saw me and said to Rae, "Oh, good. Your mother's here."
"Eew," I said, offended. "I'm not her mother. Do I look old enough to be the mother of a fifteen-year-old girl?"
"I hadn't thought about it," she replied.
"I'm his fiancée," I clarified to the nurse, and then turned to the inspector.
Henry Stone was lying in the hospital bed with an assortment of tubes and monitors attached to his body, wearing the standard-issue hospital gown. Minus the unfortunate outfit and the single gauze bandage stuck to his left temple, he looked pretty much the same as he always does: well groomed, slightly underweight, and handsome in a way that's very easy to ignore. His usually short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair had grown out more in the past few weeks, which had the added benefit of making him appear younger than his forty-four years. Although at that moment the dark circles under his eyes and his patently agitated expression had offset that benefit.
"How is he?" I asked the nurse, trying to emote the appropriate shade of concern.
"There's some bruising on the legs just below the knee, but nothing's broken. The main concern is the concussion. He lost consciousness for five minutes and is experiencing nausea. We did a CT and everything looks fine, but we need to keep him under observation for forty-eight hours."
"Will he have permanent brain damage?" Rae asked.
Henry grabbed my wrist. Hard. "I need to speak to you in private," he said.
I turned to Rae. "Leave the room."
"No," she replied. I never thought a single syllable could possess such heartbreaking desperation.
"Get out," Henry demanded, unmoved by her wells of emotion.
"Are you ever going to forgive me?" she said to him.
"It's only been two hours since you ran me over," he replied.
"Accidentally!" she shouted.
Then Henry shot her a look that seemed to have more power than any lecture, punishment, or curfew my parents ever unleashed on Rae.
"Two and a half hours," Rae mumbled as she soberly exited the room.
Henry gripped my arm even tighter after Rae was out of earshot.
"That kind of hurts, Henry."
"Don't talk to me about pain."
"I need you to do me a favor."
"Keep her away from me."
"For how long?"
"A couple weeks."
"Isabel, please. I need a break."
"I'll do what I can, but -- "
"Your sister almost killed me today -- "
"Accidentally!" shouted Rae from the other side of the door.
"I need a Rae vacation. Please. Help me."
Copyright © 2008 by Spellman Enterprises, Inc.
Meet the Author
Lisa Lutz is the author of the New York Times bestselling, Edgar Award– and Macavity Award–nominated, and Alex Award–winning Spellman Files series and the novels How to Start a Fire and The Passenger. She lives and works in upstate New York.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I love this series, but this is my favorite of the three I've read, so far. It's really out there as far as the story line and the characters. The writing is quite funny and I enjoyed it all throughout the series. My favorite recurring line is: "I have no idea what you're talking about." Read it and find out!!
CD/abridged/Chick-Mystery: There are times I get an unbridged audio and wish it was abridged and then there are times I get an abridged and feel it is the right length. However, with the Spellman Files series I wish I had the unabridged. There is so much to like about this dysfunctional family that happens to be private detectives. Izzy is a lot like Stephanie Plum, only Izzy is a little smarter and less girly. I like that the endings aren't so predictable and not everyone is happily ever after. I did see the beginnings of a future love triangle forming in this one. This one starts with Izzy getting arrested for the fourth time in two weeks and the back-story to follow. It's really good stuff and I recommend it.
The second Spellman book is an absolute treat. You will laugh out loud as the author continues to build the colorful characters. Once you pick it up, you'll have a hard time putting it down. It's hard not to start anticipating the third book while you're still reading this one! This is a series that I hope lasts as long as Stephanie Plums!
My friend bought me the first book in this series and I've been hooked ever since. The characters are hilarious, but they're crafted to be so human that they pull on your heartstrings. The flow of the plot and the writing style is unique and interesting, but you quickly get pulled into the story and start to enjoy the format. I'm not the type of person who usually laughs out loud, but the antics of the Spellman family had me cracking up!
a great series love the spellmans
So worth the read!
I just discover Lisa, and I love this series. The Spellmans, though competent and great PIs are an act in and of themselves and take family dynamics to an all new level. The main character is both funny and slightly sad at the same tine- you are always rooting for her to get her act together.
The Spellman Files books are humorous, if predicatbale, but just a little too similar to the Stephanie Plum series to be called original. There is a different level of dysfunction with the Spellmans than there is with the Plums, and the Spellman females are, frankly, irritating even as fictional characters. The plot of this book is pretty easy to figure out if you can get past the outrageous behavior of the protagonist to actually pay attention to the plot. Her mother is no better, and her sister worse; by the end of the book you will have developed an empathty if not sympathy for those close to them...especially the ones who don't want to be but are having their lives disrupted anyway. Funny series though, easy reading, something light for when you're in that mood.
I read the first book and loved it! Since then I have bought all of them, they are hilarious, and great reads. I wish they had more intresting covers, I bought the first book on a whim, otherwise by just looking at the cover I would not have bought it and missed out a great author and her books.
Quick wit, seriously dysfunctional family, great dry humor. Is a feel good series.
Lisa Lutz has done it again. Can't help loving this crazy family.
I HAVE ENJOYED THIS SERIES AND WILL CONTINUE TO READ THEM.
The Spellmans are quirky and hilarious.
Witty and clever! Loved it and it helped me get right out of my head and into Isabel's neurotic world. Exactly what I needed,!
Funny and engaging. No swear words or violence.