Curse of the Spellmans
by Lisa Lutz
Published by Simon & Schuster
3 1/2 Out of 5 Stars
3 1/2 stars for this one.
Curse of the Spellmans is the sequel to The Spellman Files, a novel about an unconventional family that runs a private investigation firm. I really enjoyed The Spellman Files--it's light, amusing, and there is an inventive quality to the narrator, Izzy Spellman's, manner of conveying her story. Because of her training as a P.I., Izzy tells us everything in the form of case file reports and transcripts of secret recordings. What worked for the first novel lost some of its quirky charm for me in the second novel simply because I expected it. However, that is not to say that I didn't enjoy Curse of the Spellmans, because I certainly did.
Izzy Spellman is now 30 years old and has spent half of her life working for her parents' private investigation firm. Because she was exposed to this lifestyle in her impressionable years, Izzy is pathologically suspicious of everyone and everything, and she lacks the ability to compartmentalize her work life and her personal life. With skills like surveillance, lock picking, on-the-spot lying, GPS tracking, and performing routine background checks, woe upon you if Izzy thinks you're hiding something from her. As one might expect, this wrecks any chance Izzy has for a normal romantic relationship. Izzy fast-forwards through the whole "getting to know you" stage of a blossoming romance in favor of gaining DOB and SSN to rummage around in the prospective romantic interest's background. This usually leads to some serious trust issues on the part of the men who fall for Izzy and, as a result, Izzy is still single. It's just this pattern of thinking that leads her to believe that her next-door-neighbor-and-potential-future-boyfriend is hiding a criminal past behind his suspiciously average name and an even more suspiciously locked door in his home. In addition to this mystery, Izzy's family members seem to have secrets of their own and Izzy, a complete stranger to the concept of personal privacy, begins to ferret out why her brother's wife seems to have disappeared, why her mother runs suspicious errands at 2:30 a.m., why her father is rapidly losing weight, and why her loner sister suddenly has friends no one in the family has ever met.
If this sounds like another light, chick-lit screwball comedy, it is. These novels don't focus on the serious investigations of the Spellman Agency. Instead, they revolve around what happens in a family trying to keep secrets and boundaries when their bread-and-butter is to cross boundaries to discover the secrets of others. The mysteries really don't matter. They're simply vehicles for getting to know this bizarre and dysfunctional and frequently amusing family.