Monday, April 16, 2012

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Book Jacket

Private investigator Isabel Spellman is back on the case and back on the couch--in court-ordered therapy after getting a little too close to her previous subject.

As the book opens, Izzy is on hiatus from Spellman Inc.  But when her boss, Milo, simultaneously cuts her bartending hours and introduces her to a "friend" looking for a private eye, Izzy reluctantly finds herself with a new client.  She assures herself that the case--a suspicious husband who wants his wife tailed--will be short and sweet, and will involve nothing more than the most boring of PI rituals: surveillance.  But with each passing hour, Izzy finds herself with more questions than hard evidence.

Meanwhile, Spellmania continues.  Izzy's brother, David, the family's most upright member, has adopted an uncharacteristically unkepmt appearance and attitude toward work, life, and Izzy.  And their wayward youngest sister, Rae, a historic academic underachiever, aces the PSATs and subsequently offends her study partner and object of obsession, Detective Henry Stone, to the point of excommunication.  The only unsurprising behavior comes from her parents, whose visits to Milo's bar amount to thinly veiled surveillance and artful attempts (read: blackmail) at getting Izzy to return to the Spellman Inc. fold.

As the case of the wayward wife continues to vex her, Izzy's personal life--and mental health--seem to be disintegrating.  Facing a housing crisis, she can't sleep, she can't remember where she parked her car, and despite her shrinks persistence, she can't seem to break through in her appointments.  She certainly can't explain why she forgets dates with her lawyer's grandson, or fails to interpret the come-ons issued in an Irish brogue by Milo's new bartender.  Nor can she explain exactly how she feels about Detective Henry Stone and his plans to move in with his new Assistant DA girlfriend...

Filled with the signature side-splitting Spellman antics, Revenge of the Spellmans is an ingenious, hilarious, and disarmingly tender installment in the Spellman series.


It's hard to review later installments of a series.  What is there to say?  Yup, still funny!  I still tear through the book!  I still can't wait for the next one!

All true.  But I find that I do have some new thoughts concerning the third book about Izzy Spellman.  Mainly that I am impressed that a story about a girl putting her life together (albeit slowly) and growing up is massively entertaining.  There is the beginning of understanding and trust amongst the Spellman family members.  I especially loved exploring the relationship between Izzy and David.  More of that, please!

Rae has gotten less interesting.  But it's totally okay, because Izzy the narrator says the same thing.  What was adorable and hilarious in a 12-year-old is just obnoxious in a 16-year-old.  She had her moments, but my Favorite Sibling Award is now firmly in the hands of David.

And Henry.  Oh, Henry.  I love Izzy's perspective on romance--mainly that she can't handle it.  She spends most of the book trying to convince herself that she doesn't like him.  And no matter how that turns out, I adore an adult couple that attempts to prank a 16-year-old and fails.  That's good storytelling.

But mostly, it's still funny!  I still tear through the book!  I still can't wait for the next one!

Four out of five secret basement apartments.

Release Date: March 2009
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.

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