The Spellman Files (Spellman Files Series #1)
  • Alternative view 1 of The Spellman Files (Spellman Files Series #1)
  • Alternative view 2 of The Spellman Files (Spellman Files Series #1)

The Spellman Files (Spellman Files Series #1)

4.1 420
by Lisa Lutz

View All Available Formats & Editions

The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious mystery series featuring Isabel “Izzy” Spellman (part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry) and her highly functioning yet supremely dysfunctional family of private investigators.

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a

…  See more details below


The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious mystery series featuring Isabel “Izzy” Spellman (part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry) and her highly functioning yet supremely dysfunctional family of private investigators.

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors—but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who’s become addicted to “recreational surveillance”); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed “Lost Weekends”). But when Izzy’s parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy’s new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go—a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fast-paced, irreverent, and very funny, The Spellman Files is like Harriet the Spy for grown-ups."

— Curtis Sittenfeld, author of The Man of My Dreams and Prep

"Hilarious. My enjoyment of The Spellman Files was only slightly undercut by my irritation that I hadn't written it myself. The funniest book I've read in years!"

— Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing

"The Spellman Files is hilarious, outrageous, and hip. Izzy Spellman, P.I., is a total original, with a voice so fresh and real, you want more, more, more. At long last, we know what Nancy Drew would have been like had she come from a family of lovable crackpots. Lisa Lutz has created a delicious comedy with skill and truth. I loved it."

— Adriana Trigiani, author of Lucia, Lucia and Big Stone Gap

"A spirited, funny debut...a rush of humor and chaos...casual, swift, and hip...A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise."

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Publishers Weekly

Cracking the case can get complicated and outrageously wacky when a family of detectives is involved, but Lutz has a blast doing it in her delicious debut. Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, a San Francisco PI who began working for Spellman Investigations at age 12, could easily pass as Buffy or Veronica Mars's wiser but funnier older sister. Izzy digs TV, too, especially Get Smart(an ex-boyfriend's ownership of the complete bootlegged DVD set is his major selling point). Now 28, Izzy thinks she wants out, but elects to take on a cold case while dealing with 14-year-old sister Rae, a nightmarish Nancy Drew, and parents who have no qualms about bugging their children's bedrooms. At times the dialogue-heavy text reads like a script and the action flags, but these are quibbles. When Rae suddenly disappears, Izzy and her family must learn some serious lessons in order to find her. Can the family that snoops together stay together? Stay tuned as a dynamic new series unfolds. 150,000 first printing. (Mar.)

Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"A spirited, funny debut...a rush of humor and chaos...casual, swift, and hip...A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise."

-- (starred review)

Library Journal

First novelist Lutz introduces a comical mystery series with this book, which features the Spellman family of private eyes. Twenty-eight-year-old Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has a problem with her bosses at Spellman Investigations, namely, her parents. The family business consists of Albert and Olivia, Izzy, and precocious 14-year-old daughter Rae, named after another member of the business, Uncle Ray. Rae's primary job within the firm is keeping track of Izzy for her parents; Izzy had been a problem child, and they fear she may lapse at any moment. The eldest of the Spellman children, David, an attorney, isn't part of the firm but is often called upon to negotiate among family members. The Spellmans spend a lot of time surveilling each other as they all try to find out who is doing what and to, or with, whom. Christina Moore does a good job reading; each character's voice has a unique nuance that makes it easy to follow the person speaking. Recommended for public libraries.
—Deb West

Kirkus Reviews
A spirited, funny debut from screenwriter Lutz that mixes chick-lit, mystery and a dose of TV nostalgia. Isabel Spellman has family issues. Her parents are a mismatched pair of private investigators who routinely run credit and background checks on their older daughter's dates. Her Uncle Ray survived a bout of cancer and now makes up for lost time, drinking, smoking and disappearing for days on end. Her amoral baby sister, Rae, negotiates everything for cash or candy, and her brother, David, is distressingly perfect. In its own way, this dysfunctional family works, and 28-year-old "Izzy" works with it, literally, as a PI for Spellman Investigations. A formerly wayward teen, known for her own lost weekends, Izzy has found herself in the nuts and bolts of PI work, from surveillance to lock-picking. But once Izzy falls for ultra-normal Daniel (he's a dentist), she begins to question her lifestyle, with its constant undercurrent of deceit and suspicion. Not that it doesn't fit her misfit personality, with its twin preoccupations of drinking and Get Smart re-runs. "I had always loved the job," she realizes in a moment of clarity. "I just hadn't always liked who I became doing it." But her exit strategy is complicated when her parents stick her on a dead-end case that excites her investigator's instincts; her best friend, Petra, starts acting oddly normal (and having tattoos removed); and Rae disappears. Written in a conversational first-person that includes Izzy's "files," such as her list of ex-boyfriends and their exit lines, these various mysteries all come together in a rush of humor and chaos. It's all casual, swift and hip. But an underpinning of reality, the complex emotions of growingup and letting go, shows through occasionally, warming up this hilarious debut. A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise. First printing of 150,000

Read More

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Spellman Files Series, #1
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt


Chapter 1 Seventy-two Hours Later

A single lightbulb hangs from the ceiling, its dull glow illuminating the spare decor of this windowless room. I could itemize its contents with my eyes closed: one wooden table, splintered and paint-chipped, surrounded by four rickety chairs; a rotary phone; an old television; and a VCR. I know this room well. Hours of my childhood I lost in here, answering for crimes I probably did commit. But I sit here now answering to a man I have never seen before, for a crime that is still unknown, a crime that I am too afraid to even consider.

Inspector Henry Stone sits across from me. He places a tape recorder in the center of the table and switches it on. I can't get a good read on him: early forties, short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, crisp white shirt, and a perfectly tasteful tie. He might be handsome, but his cold professionalism feels like a mask. His suit seems too pricey for a civil servant and makes me suspicious. But everyone makes me suspicious.

"Please state your name and address for the record," says the inspector.

"Isabel Spellman. Seventeen ninety-nine Clay Street, San Francisco, California."

"Please state your age and date of birth."

"I'm twenty-eight. Born April 1, 1978."

"Your parents are Albert and Olivia Spellman, is that correct?"


"You have two siblings: David Spellman, thirty, and Rae Spellman, fourteen. Is that correct?"


"Please state your occupation and current employer for the record."

"I am a licensed private investigator with Spellman Investigations, my parents' PI firm."

"When did you first begin working for Spellman Investigations?" Stone asks.

"About sixteen years ago."

Stone consults his notes and looks up at the ceiling, perplexed. "You would have been twelve?"

"That is correct," I respond.

"Ms. Spellman," Stone says, "let's start at the beginning."

I cannot pinpoint the precise moment when it all began, but I can say for sure that the beginning didn't happen three days ago, one week, one month, or even one year ago. To truly understand what happened to my family, I have to start at the very beginning, and that happened a long time ago.

Read More


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 novel The Passenger. She is the coauthor of Heads You Lose, written with David Hayward. She lives and works in upstate New York.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >