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Mystery Books - Lisa Lutz - The Spellman Files

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The Spellman Files
Lisa Lutz
Pocket Books
480 pages

Those who can't wait to sink their teeth into a killer-tracking, action-packed thriller will want to file this book.  However, readers who wish a light escape mystery novel should give The Spellman Files a try.
Part of a series of novels by Lisa Lutz, this one is sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and sometimes a mystery.  It is quirky, different, and makes for a generally enjoyable vacation read.
Spellman Investigations is a family owned and operated PI business, composed of Mom, Olivia; Dad, Albert; older brother David (30), the quintessential perfect son, ripe for sibling rivalry, who retired at 16 and is currently a successful lawyer; younger sister Rae (14), named after her particularly dysfunctional disappearing alcoholic Uncle Ray; and our protagonist Isabel (28).  Investigation is her life.
The Spellmans are an odd lot.  The ‘Files focus primarily on their bizarre family relationships, and the outrageous lengths they go to as they protect, spy on, evade, tail and intrude upon each other at least as often as they do their suspects.
At times, the reader wishes for a story with a noticeable plot, then hooray, about half way through the a little long 400+ pages, the resurrection of an unsolved missing person case, and the vanishing of a treasured family member-not the predictably absent Ray-sets the stage for meaty mystery.
Then enters some serious PI work, tracking clues, interviewing suspects, deciphering lies, a red herring, and decidedly unexpected twists, which, consistent with The Spellman Files, are odd and unusual, but explained, minding the book's tone and context, in a rational, believable way.
Unfortunately, the ending to this mystery novel is anticlimactic. 
Following, however, is a section of acknowledgements so long that this reader thought it was another chapter.  While Lutz herself advises against reading it unless you are specifically mentioned, it is worth a glance to view more of the author's quirky humour.
You'll enjoy the Spellman's antics, but don't expect anything too CSI.

J Curran

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