Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files Series #5)

Trail of the Spellmans (Spellman Files Series #5)

by Lisa Lutz


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451608120
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 02/28/2012
Series: Spellman Files Series , #5
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 6.52(w) x 9.88(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of The Spellman Files and Curse of the Spellmans, a nominee of the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Novel. She is most recently the coauthor of Heads You Lose, written with David Hayward.

Read an Excerpt

Trail of the Spellmans

  • I do my job. I watch. I take notes. I snap pictures and record video. I document subjects’ activities through a filter of twenty years of disassociation. I don’t judge. I don’t manipulate the evidence. I simply report my findings to the client. The client can use the information however they see fit. At least that’s the line I feed them. But the truth is always a murkier business.

    November 2

    2330 hrs

    Female subject, 5’5”, 125 lbs, dark brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt over a dark green military jacket, exits a San Francisco apartment building at Twenty-sixth and Noe. She walks east down the street, scanning the parked cars. She presses a remote key and looks for a flash of headlights. A BMW winks in the distance. Female subject spins in a circle, checking her perimeter; approaches car; gets inside; and starts the engine. She drives east down to South Van Ness Avenue and makes a left turn, stopping on the corner of Seventeenth and South Van Ness at the establishment of Oscar’s Auto. Subject drives vehicle into covered garage. Unable to establish a visual on subject for fifteen minutes.

    2345 hrs

    Subject and an unknown male (midforties, heavyset, wearing blue mechanic’s jumpsuit with the Oscar’s Auto logo embroidered on the breast pocket) exit the office of establishment. They approach a tow truck with the same logo painted on the side. Subject slips an unidentifiable object into her pocket and jumps into a truck with unknown male. Investigator follows subject vehicle to a liquor store. Unknown male enters the store and leaves three minutes later with a large brown bag (about the size of a six-pack of beer).1

    The tow truck returns subject to the residence on Twenty-sixth Street where she was previously seen exiting. Subject rings the buzzer. (Could not establish unit number.) Female subject then enters the building and all visual contact is lost.

     * * *

    The preceding events would appear innocent enough to the naked eye, but let me enlighten you as to what the naked eye missed just a few hours earlier that evening: Female Subject met the owner of the BMW in a bar; Female Subject was not of legal drinking age; Female Subject was not the owner of the vehicle taken to Oscar’s repair shop. Finally—and how could you know this?—Oscar’s Auto is a well-known chop shop, doing an arthritic limbo under the radar of the law. Subject, based on my three weeks of surveillance, was a regular menace to society, masquerading as a high-achieving coed.

     * * *

    My phone rang just as I was about to end the surveillance and head home. The caller ID said “The Tortoise.” Someone had been tampering with my phone.

    “Hello,” I said.

    “Where is everyone?”

    “I don’t know, Dad.” For the record, I wasn’t withholding information. I really didn’t know.

    “I’m tired of always being alone in the house.”

    “You’re not alone.”

    “Other than You Know Who.”

    “Why doesn’t You Know Who have a nickname yet?” I asked.

    “I think we’re going with ‘You Know Who’ as a nickname.”

    “Kind of messes with our animal theme, don’t you think?”

    “Sometimes you got to break protocol.”

    “True,” I said. I couldn’t have agreed more.

    “I’m lonely.”

    “Sorry to hear that, Mr. Tortoise.”

    “And I hate my nickname. I should be able to come up with my own.”

    “Did you call for a chat?”

    “Dinner did not go over very well.”

    “The roast?” I asked.


    “And that’s something coming from you. Did Mom blame me?”

    “No, she took full responsibility.”

    “Where is she?”

    “Origami or pie making, I don’t remember.”

    “Those are two very different things, Dad.”

    “Any action tonight?”


    “Are you there?” Dad said. I could hear him tapping his finger on the phone, like it was an old transistor radio.

    “I thought we were no longer sharing information.”

    “Only on cases we’re working separately. So, any action?” Dad repeated.

    “Not unless you consider studying or watching TV—or both—action.”

    “Good. Can you drop by the house on your way back? I need the surveillance camera for tomorrow.”

    “What’s tomorrow?”

    “You know better than to ask questions like that.”

     * * *

    I waited outside the Noe Valley apartment for another five minutes, gathering my thoughts. Female subject peered out of the window, checking the empty street, and then defenestrated herself, hanging from the window frame and dropping four feet to the ground. She then sauntered down the street in the direction of her apartment, just over a mile away.

    After my conversation with the Tortoise, I made a quick U-turn and watched female subject through my rearview mirror. I had to ask myself whether I was doing my job or if I was an accessory after the fact.

     * * *

    At home, I found my father staring at a stack of paperwork that had to be filed. Filing always made him sad, borderline depressed, and since he thought he’d seen the end of those days, to have them return only stoked his sadness. He pressed the intercom button when he saw me.

    “The Gopher has landed,” he said.

    “I really wish you’d stop that,” I said.

    “I can’t,” he helplessly replied.

    “Where’s Mom?” I asked.

    “The Eagle2 is on the tarmac.”

    “It’s just pathetic,” I muttered as I left the room.

    The Eagle was indeed on the tarmac (or the couch, as it is commonly known), watching the evening news.

    On the drive to Spellman headquarters I debated, as I have over the last three months, how much information I should divulge. I’m a spectacular liar (“magician of the truth” is the new phrase I’m working with). I’ve studied deception enough to know the universal tells, and I can embody honesty to virtually anyone, except a member of my family. With them I have to turn my behavior inside-out, assume a liarlike demeanor at all times—toss in sarcasm with the truth. A salad of honesty and deception is the only way I can get away with an untruth. My point is that I was planning on lying to my parents about the evening’s events and there is a particular way to go about it.

    “Did the Sparrow flee the nest at all this evening?” my mother asked, staring at the evening news.

    The Sparrow did indeed flee the nest, and another nest, and then she stole a car. With the right delivery, I could both manage a lie and have it read like the truth.

    “Not unless you count a study break of grand theft auto,” I sarcastically replied.

    “Write it up,” said Mom. “I think it might be time to tell the Blakes that this surveillance is merely a drain on their bank account.”3

    “Maybe we wait just a little bit longer,” I replied.

    “Why?” my mother asked suspiciously. “That doesn’t sound like you.”

    “It’s finals week. She could be distracted.”

    I fetched a beer from the fridge and sat down on the couch next to my mom.

    “Don’t forget to write the report,” Mom said. “It’s always better to do it when it’s fresh in your mind.”

    “ ‘Subject remained in her apartment for five hours studying.’ ” I spoke as if into a tape recorder. “It shouldn’t take very long to type that up.”

    Silence finally set in.

    Television is the perfect anecdote for unwanted conversation. I don’t know how humans ever survived without it.

    After a few bars of the grating evening-news theme song, an earnest middle-aged man related a story about a brutal triple-murder-followed-by-suicide in Vallejo. He looked appropriately grave for two full seconds and then turned to his female counterpart.

    She nodded, furrowed her brow, and said, “A tragedy . . . And now, I believe we have some breaking news about the tree sitters in Berkeley.”

    The camera shifted to the image of a khaki-and-windbreaker-clad newscaster in front of the oak grove on the UC Berkeley campus. Over the hum of protesters and bullhorns, the newscaster shouted into the microphone.

    “For a week now, tree sitters working in shifts have lived on the three-hundred-year-old oak tree in protest of a campus development project that would require the trees’ removal. Negotiations began last week but have stalled . . . University officials are once again at odds with the environmental activists who have proven to be worthy adversaries in the past . . . ”

    Just then my father entered the room and planted himself next to me on the couch. “You have to admire their dedication,” he said.

    “I want to know when they use the restroom,” my mother said.

    “That’s what the bucket is for,” I said.

    The newscaster continued his report.

    “. . . The tree sitters have managed to maintain a constant vigil by working in shifts. In the middle of the night there was a changing of the guards, when the police were called away by a disturbance in the sculpture garden . . . ”

    The camera panned over to one of the grand old oaks and closed in on the tree sitter du jour. The reporter continued. “Currently the police are trying to find a safe and peaceful way to end the standoff. We will keep you posted on the latest developments.”

    The news cut to an Ivory Soap commercial. My mother picked up her cell phone, pressed number three on her speed dial, and waited until the voice mail kicked in.

    “Rae. This is your mother calling. Get the hell out of that tree right now!”

    1. I have an eye for this sort of thing.

    2. I’ll explain all this animal crap shortly.

    3. Shockingly, my mother shows occasional bursts of fiscal integrity.

  • Reading Group Guide

    This reading group guide for Trail of the Spellmans includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, a Q&A with author Lisa Lutz and tips on "How to Navigate a Book Club." The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


    In Trail of the Spellmans, the fifth installment of Lisa Lutz’s bestselling series, the quirky Spellman PIs again find themselves with more questions than your average family could handle. Luckily for them, they aren’t your average family.

    Isabel’s love life is on the rocks—much like the unexpected drinks she’s sharing with her boyfriend’s mother, Gerty. Rather than face the fact that she and Henry may want different things in life, she resorts to The Avoidance Method by burying herself in work.

    And there’s plenty of work to be buried in. Objects are going amiss from the apartment of math professor Walter Perkins. Meanwhile, suspicious parents hire the firm to follow their daughter, whose only shady activities seem somehow tangled with Rae’s. Finally, two clients’ surveillance requests present the Spellmans with a conflict of interest, causing Isabel’s father to enact a “Chinese wall.” Of course, no wall is big enough to keep Isabel out for long. She soon learns that she was right about one of the client’s dishonest intentions.

    Topics & Questions for Discussion

    1. Of Albert and Olivia Spellman’s three children, Isabel is the only one who wants to follow in her parents’ footsteps and be a true part of the family business. Why do you think this is? What sets her apart from her brother and sister?
    2. In the early chapters of the novel, Isabel spends time discussing her opinion of “Old David” versus “New David.” Ultimately, how do you think she feels about each of the two versions of her brother? If she had to choose between them, which do you think she would prefer to have around? Which would you prefer?

    3. What did you think about Rae Spellman’s manipulation of Sydney’s vocabulary, using the “Banana Offensive”? Was it a retaliation against David for “training” her when she was a child, or was it a genuine scientific inquiry?

    4. Isabel is surprised to find how well she gets along with Gertrude “Gerty” Stone, her boyfriend Henry’s mother. Why do you think the two are drawn to each other? What do they have in common?

    5.According to Bernie, he and Gerty are “just two old ships who collided in the night.” Isabel clearly takes issue with their relationship; did you? Did you support Isabel’s decision not to tell Henry about Bernie and Gerty’s courtship?

    6. Of the unlikely friendships in the novel—Isabel and Gerty, Isabel and Charlie Black, Demetrius and Grammy Spellman—which were you most surprised by, and which do you think makes the most sense? Can you think of any other unlikely friendships that emerge during the course of the novel?

    7. How did you react to Isabel’s relationship with Henry? Did you suspect that their relationship was coming to an end? What characteristics would a man need to have for Isabel to be with him permanently? What do you think she is looking for?

    8. Do you think Albert’s installment of the “Chinese wall” is helpful or hurtful to the family’s work? Why do you think Isabel opposes it so strongly?

    9. Isabel is notoriously skeptical of people she doesn’t know. Why does she place her trust in Charlie Black? What does Isabel like about Charlie? Do you think the Slayter case would have ended differently without him?

    10. How are each of the members of the Spellman family, including Demetrius, affected by the arrival of Grandma Ruth Spellman to their household? Similarly, how would you describe Grammy Spellman in just three words? How do you think Olivia would describe Grammy Spellman in three words?

    11. Isabel says, “As much as one might like to believe that I’ve eased into adulthood without a fight, let there be no mistake. I’m still fighting.” At what points in the novel do you think Isabel is fighting adulthood? At what times does she embrace the transition?

    12. Did your opinion of Walter change from the beginning of the novel to the end? Were you surprised to find out who had been messing with his apartment?

    13. By coming clean to Mr. Slayter and providing him with evidence of his wife’s infidelity, Isabel gets personally involved in the case, thereby breaking one of her dad’s most important rules. Do you think she did the right thing, or should she have remained neutral?

    14. If you’ve read Lisa Lutz’s previous four Spellman novels, which one is your favorite? Why?

    Enhance Your Book Club

    1. Rae and Al enjoy creating code names for the members of the Spellman clan. For example, they dub Isabel “the Gopher” because she likes to dig through the dirt. Have the members of your reading group choose nicknames for one another, and don’t forget to give explanations as to why you think the names are fitting.

    2. From cranberry scones and cherry clafoutis to his famous “Crack Mix,” Demetrius’s homemade treats never go unappreciated by the members of the Spellman family. Choose one or more of your favorite dishes from the novel and make them for your reading group to eat during your discussion.

    3. Even Isabel’s father found her high-school self’s snarky, “wholly inappropriate” thank you notes amusing. Is there anyone you’d like to “thank” in the Isabel way? Have the members of your discussion group write quirky thank you notes. But unlike Isabel, you might want to think twice about actually sending them!

    4. Cast your ideal Trail of the Spellmans movie with your discussion group. Who would play Isabel? Rae? How about paranoid Walter, or conniving Margaret Slayter?

    5. Lisa Lutz may be available to call in to your book club discussion. You can email your request for a call-in to with the subject line, “Request to call my book group.”

    A Conversation with Lisa Lutz

    Isabel tells her readers that they should “quit guessing and let the story unfold as it may,” that even she doesn’t “know how all the pieces will fall.” Do you know how all the pieces will fall when you begin writing a novel? Or does the novel unfold while you write?

    I have story threads and themes that I’ve noted ahead of time. I usually have a sense of where my characters are personally and ways in which they might transform throughout the novel. But I never know at the outset how the book will end, nor do I ever stick to my original plan.

    Which Spellman do you relate to the most? Do you have a favorite? Why or why not?

    The obvious answer and the most honest one is Isabel. However, I relate to all of them in different ways. I relate to Rae’s indifference to social mores. I understand Olivia’s desire to enforce her desires on her mini-universe. And I completely comprehend Albert’s experience of having no control of those around him.

    If you had a Spellman clan nickname, what do you think it would be and why?

    The Aristocrats!

    You’ve said in a previous interview that you did some surveillance work yourself. What was the most exciting thing to happen to you while you were on a job?

    I followed a lunatic who had apparently shot a priest (this may have been a rumor) and believed he (the lunatic, not the priest) was the true inventor of “bifurcated jeans” (which are just plain old blue jeans, but he made a point of writing “bifurcated” in some documents we found—that’s how I learned the word). During the surveillance, the subject dropped off in a cigar shop rather complicated drawings of an invention for a new kind of toilet that wouldn’t require toilet paper. It would, however, require a seat belt (this is true; I saw the drawings). Anyway, when I was surveilling this unusual fellow, I tailed him into a bar and overheard the barmaid say, “Joey,[1] are you talking about killing people again?”

    Demetrius’s “Crack Mix” sounds like, as Al says, “the best snack food in the history of snack food.” Where did you get the idea for this heavenly snack? Is it based in reality? If so, can you divulge the recipe?

    I imagine Crack Mix to be the Chex Mix of the gods. Do I know what secret ingredients would make it that? No. But I will admit that I really like Chex Mix. And if anyone does have the recipe for Chex Mix of the gods, call me.

    SpongeBob SquarePants made a few appearances throughout Trail of the Spellmans. Is it a guilty pleasure of yours?

    Sometimes when I’m sick or depressed or both, I watch. And I don’t feel a tiny bit guilty about it.

    Which character do you think has changed the most since The Spellman Files: Document #1?

    That question is tough. I think the youngest characters were likely to change the most, since that’s the nature of growing up. But when I sit down and write each book, I want every character to change in the story. That’s what happens. People transform in some ways and they remain exactly the same in others. Often the thing you’d like to change the most about yourself is where you will forever remain stuck.

    How was the experience of writing the fifth book in this series different than the experience of writing the first?

    Actually, Document #5 was rough. While I had no intention of ending the series after The Spellmans Strike Again, I did close many doors in that book and, with the fifth one, I was opening a lot of doors and not finding anything behind them and then opening another door and another until I found something. It was a while before I found my stride. I’m very pleased with it, but it took a long time to figure out where I was going.

    Do you have any idea of what’s in store for Isabel and the rest of the Spellman clan for the next book?

    I have a few things up my sleeve. And I should probably transcribe them from my arm before my next shower.

    Isabel has had her high points and her low points in each Spellman novel. If you could have a conversation with her face-to-face, what advice would you want to give her?

    I’ve got no business giving advice to anyone. Even a fictional character.

    [1] Not his real name.

    Tips from Lisa Lutz on How to Navigate a Book Club:

    I’m honored to have been chosen as S&S’s Something to Read About Book Club pick for January 2012. Here’s where I share an anecdote about some hilarious book club experience I had. Alas, I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a book club. If I were, I would probably be that person who never read the book and showed up just for the food and drink. If you’re like me, might I recommend the book How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard. That will give you some smart ways to navigate the book club experience.

    Until you have a chance to read that book, I’ve assembled some handy phrases to get the unprepared member of a book club through her next meeting:

    “I wasn’t feeling the ending.”

    “What’s-her-name kind of annoyed me.”

    “It was a masterpiece, I thought.”

    “Pass the chips.”

    “The dip is amazing.”

    “I agree with what Suzie[1] said.”

    “[insert name of book] will stay with me a long time. “


    Remember, there’s nothing worse than a book club meeting without drinks. Here’s my recipe for Magic Punch.

    1 part vodka

    1 part soda water

    1 part limeade

    1 package Lifesavers (red/green are excellent for the holidays)

    [1] Make sure someone named Suzie is in book club.

    Customer Reviews

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    Trail of the Spellmans 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 74 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I'm not all the way through the sample, but so far it's amazing. I'm so excited for when the book comes out!!!! I lisa lutz's writing!!!
    4HGTV More than 1 year ago
    This book could be subtitled, "Izzy Grows Up." While the antics of the Spellman family continue, this book has an underlying seriousness as circumstances change for everyone in the family. I think the added gravity takes the series in a good direction, still humorous, but not as frivolous as the earlier books. I look forward to the next installment.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was by far the most entertaining and best written of the five books in the series.
    Helena115 More than 1 year ago
    I LOVED the Spellman books 1-4. I thought they were hilarious, and had characters that were both fun and interesting. The author spent 4 books writing about the Spellmans and moving their relationships forward. Book 4 really seemed to wrap up the series in a nice bow, so I was surprised to find out that there was a book 5. After reading it, I almost feel that the author was also surprised. It's almost like she realized that if she wanted to continue the series, she had to unwind almost everything she did in Book 4. While I still enjoyed that author's writing style, I was very disappointed to see most of the characters take a big step backwards.
    CynthG More than 1 year ago
    Lisa Lutz is awesome. Document 5 introduces you to two more crazy characters and gives you closure on one. Grammy Spellman shows up to shake the Spellman house up, and Henry Stone's mother shows us why Henry is a tedious person. Fast and fun read!
    wyogal More than 1 year ago
    The footnotes can become tedious in a normal book but in the nook book format, when you have to go back and forth to the end of the book in order to decipher them, it's downright irritating. They need to figure out another way to hole them or just drop them altogether.
    justmelissa on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    After the last entry in the series - The Spellmans Strike Again - I though it was good the series was coming to an end (that was the rumor at the time). Though Izzy and her family are funny, wacky, and completely dysfunctional, the series was becoming stale. None of the characters seemed to grow or learn from their many, many mistakes. Luckily, Lisa Lutz didn't disappoint with the newest entry.In Trail of the Spellmans, all members of the family are in fine form. They are as unpredictable, uncommunicative, and sneaky as always. But, there were also some twists: finally, Izzy, David, and Rae each practiced a little self-reflection and came to significant conclusions. It was great to see the Spellman kids grow up a bit. The resulting changes should keep the series fresh and interesting for at least a few more books.Overall, a satisfying addition to the Spellman family.
    jnwelch on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    I had to return it to the library, so I won't do a usual kind of review of Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz, but I'll make a few comments about it. This is the latest in a humor/mystery series featuring Izzy (Isabel) Spellman and her aggressive, uninhibited family that runs a private detection agency. She's in her 30s now and her romantic life remains complicated. These aren't typical mysteries. The Spellmans surveil people (and often each other) and decipher their dirty (or not dirty) deeds. When Izzy mentions it would be nice to get a murder case, her mother says, "We can dream."The dialog is always sharp and funny, and Lutz is particularly good at having characters act in bizarre, unlikely fashion, only to have the reader later learn why - and the why is always reasonable and logical. For example, Izzy's mother suddenly takes up a variety of seemingly unrelated hobbies and classes, like ceramics, Russian, crocheting, for no apparent reason. Turns out there is an amusing and very good reason.In this one the Spellmans are surveiling a husband, sister and daughter, and keeping their clients and ethics straight is a challenge, not to mention the whys and wherefores of what their investigations disclose. Izzy sorts it all out in a questionably ethical, but unquestionably right, way. At the same time she's investigating what's going on in her own family and trying to determine whether she can ever have a long-term romance (she's up to ex-boyfriend #13. There are a lot of good laughs, and Lutz is adept with footnotes, including several improbably involving actor Morgan Freeman.
    MaryinHB on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    MY THOUGHTSLOVED ITI adore the Spellmans and in this latest installment, they are back to their homespun wackiness where no one trusts anyone as far as they can throw them. The story skips back and forth between the family members, each having their own issues. Mrs. Spellman suddenly throws herself into a whirlwind of acitivities. David is now a stay at home dad whose daughter refers to everything as "banana". Rae is in college and still working part time for the family, but has lost her interest. She does develop feelings for a boy whom she treats with little regard. Isabel is on and off with Henry and finds she has more in common with his mother lately. Her father has taken on several questionable cases.It really sounds like none of these things should go together, but Lutz weaves them all with humor and sarcasm. This is the first book in the series I couldn't sit down and read straight through. I had read that the author wasn't feeling the series anymore and I think it shows a bit. I did laugh out loud quite a bit and felt this would be a good book to end the series on since most major issues are tied up neatly. I will miss the family, well, at least until I find out there is another book on the way!
    Marlyn on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    Things are stranger than usual in the Spellman family. Isabel's mother, Olivia, has suddenly signed up for a lot of evening classes. Her father, Albert has some kind of secret. Her siblings (David, older and Rae, younger) are suddenly not speaking to each other. And David's toddler daughter calls everything a banana (except bananas). Isabel is the first to admit that she's not very good at relationships. Rather than just ask her family members what's going on, she investigates: tailing, eavesdropping and snooping. (Granted, this is not atypical for the Spellmans, who go on "disappearances" instead of vacations.) Instead of talking to her boyfriend Henry about their future, she starts going out drinking with Henry's mother.Still, Izzy is perturbed about her family's apparent unravelling, and resolves to do something about it. Is Izzy finally growing up?Lutz has included all the ingredients of her winning Spellman series recipe: copious footnotes and appendices, plus.this time, "copies" of school assignments created by her siblings. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as the first book in the series, but you might still find yourself giggling to yourself. *Many thanks to the publisher for the Advance Reading Copy.
    booksinthebelfry on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    If you're in the mood for a deftly written comic novel, you can't do much better than the Spellman series by Lisa Lutz. Her hilariously cockeyed view of modern family life is extremely entertaining, and if you're inclined to look hard enough you can even discern some wry wisdom buried in the rapid-fire, wisecracking exchanges between Izzy Spellman, the main protagonist, and her endearingly quirky friends and relations. (It's not required, though. You can just go ahead and laugh out loud for the hell of it.)
    lhossler on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    I was bored by this book and didn't finish it. I really enjoyed the previous Spellman books, but this one didn't have any bite.
    bookmagic on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    P.I. Izzie Spellman somewhat has her life on track. She has been living with Henry for a couple years now but she is avoiding him because a) his mother is visiting and b) he wants to have THE talk. So Izzie busies herself with solving some mysteries around her family. One, her mother has suddenly filled up all her free time with yoga, crochet classes, Russian classes. Izzie is determined to find out why. Also, her brother David has thrown out their younger sister Rae from his house's basement apartment. But neither of them will say why.Izzie is also concerned about some cases her parents have accepted. But if she does the right thing, she risks getting fired from the family business.I have read all of the Spellman books and I am so happy I discovered this series and I hope Lutz keeps writing them. This latest offering maintains all the humor and craziness of the others. Even with Izzie showing more maturity, the series has not lost any of it's fun and uniqueness. I loved and highly recommend this book. But if you haven't read any of these books, you really do need to start at the beginning. I personally am planning a reread of them all.
    dpappas on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    For fans of the Spellman series this book will definitely not disappoint. The Spellman family is back and as dysfunctional as ever. There are a couple of new additions to the family that readers will enjoy.I loved this book. I felt like the additions to the Spellman family totally made me love the family even more than I already did. I don't want to give too much away since the book hasn't come out yet, but to me certain parts of this book just seemed bittersweet. Izzy wins a big victory in the end but also suffers a defeat in the book, a defeat of something dear. The ending of the book actually made me tear up a bit.I would recommend this book to fans of the series. I would recommend this series to everyone who hasn't yet discovered how amazing the Spellman family is.*I received an Advance Reader's Edition of this book from a giveaway by the publisher. In no way is the content of my review affected by that.*
    ethel55 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    Document #5 in the Spellman series was a very fun read. While not everything went in the way I expected (or hoped) it would, how can I say that anything has ever followed a linear line in these books? Between the usual, interesting plot lines (cases), we get the unusual too. There's a new employee at Spellman Investigations, a possible Ex-boyfriend #13, an open-ended visit by Grammy Spellman, and siblings at odds. For once, Izzy doesn't seem like the strangest one in this lot of characters and almost seems like she could take control of her future. Lutz has had me hooked since the first book and I will continue to follow any and all Spellman sagas.
    EdGoldberg on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    Let me start by saying I'm not a big fan of humorous mysteries. I'm not a Carl Hiaasen reader. I stopped Janet Evanovich after book four. However, I have great respect for authors who can write humorous mysteries because I think it's one of the hardest genres to be consistently good at.So, when I initially read the Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz I was surprised how 'laugh out loud' funny it was. I continued laughing through the antics of the Spellmans in books two through four. I whole-heartedly recommend reading them.Then something happened and Lutz co-wrote Heads You Lose with her ex-boyfriend, still friend David Hayward. It was like she took an anti-comedy pill. I struggled through 50 pages and had to put it down.With Trail of the Spellmans (Document #5) Lutz is climbing out of the abyss and starting to get her groove back. As with most of her Spellman books, it's a mish mosh. There is the usual intra-family subterfuge. In addition, they are hired by three related people to follow other members within this triumvirate, for reasons not readily apparent. And then there is Walter, who leaves his house afraid he left the toaster plugged in or the water running. Hey, in the private eye business, you take what you can get.Lutz has also introduced a likeable new employee, Demetrius, aka D, an ex-con who served 15 years in jail for a crime he didn't commit. And there is the always dependable Henry, with whom Isabel has moved in. Lutz's characteristic footnotes and appendices are present, although not in such quantities as in prior books. As always, Lutz lets you know that more Spellman mania could very well be down the pike.While not her greatest Spellman book, Trail of the Spellmans certainly is required reading for Spellman fans. It's a quick, enjoyable read, minus the laugh-out-loud component (I did chuckle a few times though). So, if you haven't read a Lisa Lutz book, start with the Spellman Files and work your way through this short series. If you have read one of the books, just keep going through them in order. You'll be laughing til tears come out of your eyes.P.S. I was pleased to see that Ms. Lutz, on her last page. supported independend bookstores and suggested strongly that we frequent them. For that alone, this book is worth reading!
    BookAngel_a on LibraryThing 10 months ago
    This book is #5 in the Isabel Spellman series. I had only read the first book before this, and I liked this one even more than the first one (The Spellman Files).The Spellman family are all experienced private investigators, by hobby or by trade, and instead of talking to one another like normal people, they spy on each other and show no regard for personal privacy. At first glance, they all seem to be a bit crazy.In this book, Izzy's mom has suddenly started all sorts of hobbies and Izzy doesn't know why. David and Rae, Izzy's brother and sister, are fighting - and again, no one knows why. And Izzy and her parents all seem to be investigating the same family, but her dad isn't allowing her to talk about it. Izzy, along with the reader, must try to piece all of this together by the end of the book. To further complicate matters, Granny Spellman is hanging around. Oh, and Izzy needs to figure out where her relationship with her boyfriend is headed, what she wants to do with the rest of her life, and how to keep from being fired.This is a delightful and fun book that kept me guessing all the way until the end. I will definitely read the remaining books (#2 through #4) in this series. Recommended if you like fun, mysterious novels with eccentric characters.(I received this book through Amazon's Vine Program.)
    Carstairs38 More than 1 year ago
    The Spellman clan is hired for several different surveillance cases. Meanwhile, the mom is taking random classes every evening and David and Rae aren't speaking. Will the family survive the latest round of craziness. As always, I laughed my way through the book and had a hard time putting it down. Fans will not be disappointed.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This series was meant to end on book 4. It shows in book 5. The author had to undo much of the conclusions to get more books in the series. It was actually depressing
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    Irreverant and fun,always sad for these to end
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