At the ripe old age of thirty-two, former wild child Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family business. And the transition won't be a smooth one.
First among her priorities as head of Spellman Investigations is to dig up some dirt on the competition, slippery ex-cop Rick Harkey--a task she may enjoy a little too much. Next, faced with a baffling missing-persons case at the home of an aging millionaire, Izzy hires an actor friend, Len, to infiltrate the mansion as an undercover butler--a role he may enjoy a little too much.
Meanwhile, Izzy is being blackmailed by her mother (photographic evidence of Prom Night 1994) to commit to regular blind dates with promising professionals--an arrangement that doesn't thrill Connor, an Irish bartender on the brink of becoming Ex-boyfriend #12.
At Spellman headquarters, it's business as unusual. Doorknobs and light fixtures are disappearing every day. Mom's been spotted crying in the pantry, and a series of increasingly demanding Spellman Rules (Rule #27: No Speaking Today) can't quite hold the family together. Izzy also has to decipher weekly "phone calls from the edge" from her octogenarian lawyer, Morty, as well as Detective Henry Stone's mysterious interest in rekindling their relationsh...well, whatever it was.
Just when it looks like things can't go more haywire, little sister Rae's internship researching pro bono legal cases leads the youngest Spellman to launch a grassroots campaign that could spring an innocent man from jail--or land Rae in it.
The Spellmans Strike Again is hands down the most hilarious, thrilling, and moving book in this bestselling, award-nominated series. And it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Isabel Spellman, no matter how much she matures, will never be able to follow Rule #1: Act Normal.
This might be my favorite Spellman book, which is impressive as the fourth entry in the series. I thought the family mysteries were compelling as always, but this time the actual work-related mysteries intrigued me too. I found the whole legal process of freeing an innocent man really interesting and terribly sad in a real-world context.
But let's not dwell on the terribly sad. The Spellmans are nothing if not funny. I loved the family rules! And the way Albert would carry around doorknobs nonchalantly because the ones on the doors went missing. And Henry's adorablely direct way of worming his way back into Izzy's life. And Morty! I love Morty!
Izzy is much more likeable now, I think. She's still off-kilter and unusual and funny. But she's lost a lot of the ingrained rebellious streak that could get annoying. The crux of her maturity is demonstrated when, instead of egging someone's car, she merely lays a dozen eggs on the hood as a reminder of what could have been done. Fantastic.
I continue to love David, and this time Rae is back to being awesome. Everyone is starting to get significant others, and while that could be dangerous to add to the balance of such a hilariously dysfunctional family, Lutz does a great job partnering up her characters with people who ease their craziness but don't take it away entirely.
Five out of five organic gardens.
Release Date: March 2010
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.