Rated Reads

The Spellman Files

by Lisa Lutz

Rated: High

Isabel Spellman is all about privacy. Or more accurately, the lack thereof. Her own, her family’s, others’. Nothing is sacred, so it seems.

This is because almost all of her family members are private investigators. Her parents started the business before she was born, and she and her younger sister (age 14) have always worked for them. Only her “perfect” older brother doesn’t, at least not anymore. He’s a lawyer.

Isabel runs background checks on potential boyfriends. So do her parents. They routinely tail each other. Because it’s easier to follow a vehicle at night that has a missing light, they often smash each other’s headlights or taillights.

The Spellman Files has a couple of small mysteries in it, but it’s really all about the family and their wacky antics. They may be a bit abnormal in how they get on each others’ nerves — or how they show affection — but they are still somehow relatable because they’re a family. And most families have some kind of wackiness to them.

Lisa Lutz’s writing is absolutely hilarious. She uses footnotes to great effect, and her dry/wry style of wit is laugh-out-loud funny. I was hugely entertained.

Note: The book has two sequels, Curse of the Spellmans and Revenge of the Spellmans.

Rated: High for language. Isabel Spellman, the main character, refers to herself as prone to use bad language, and she definitely does. There are probably 20 occasions of strong language or moderate language. No sex or violence, however.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 15 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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Spellman Files
  • The Spellman Files
  • by Lisa Lutz
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: