For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. Mom has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities--with no apparent motive. Dad has a secret. Izzy's brother and sister are at war--for no apparent reason. And her niece keeps saying "banana" even though she hates bananas.
That's not to say that Izzy isn't without her own troubles. Her boyfriend, Henry Stone, keeps wanting "to talk," a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry's mother.
Things aren't any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, Rae is hired to follow a girl, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. And as the questions pile up, Izzy won't stop hunting for the answers--even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.
By this fifth installment of the Spellman family's misadventures, reading about Izzy's life is like curling up in front of a fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate. Never has dysfunction been so cozy. It helps, I suppose, that although the Spellmans are still ridiculous, they are a bit more mature and communicative.
Mostly thanks to Demetrius, the recently freed wrongfully-convicted criminal who is now working for Spellman Investigations. Both the Spellmans and I agree: Demetrius is awesome! I loved his logic and abililty to sidestep compromising conversations. I loved his sneaky baking and random relationships with grandmothers and mysterious girlfriends. He was a wonderful addition to the series, and I can't wait to read more about him.
I actually really liked the mystery parts of the book. I cared about who was lying, how they were lying, and whether the lies would ever be uncovered. Usually the PI stuff is skippable for me, but this time I was invested.
Rae is making a comeback for my affections, which inevitably means David is falling behind. I still liked him, but these crazy siblings! I can't ever like them or hate them at the same time. Momma and Poppa Spellman were more likeable this time around. And Isabel? Well, I completely understand why she acts the way she does and chooses the way she does, but it did make me a little sad.
I'm super bummed that I've now caught up with real life and will have to wait for the next Spellman book like the rest of humanity. Sad.
Five out of five running faucets.
Release Date: February 2012
Reading Level: Grade 9+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: Not currently part of Dunlap's collection.