Thursday, April 18, 2013

Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

Curse of the Spellmans is the second in the series by Lisa Lutz I have read this week. What a hoot. The Spellmans are a private eye family living in and working out of a Victorian house in San Francisco. The narrator, Isabel, a thirty-year-old with enough curiosity to kill a herd of cats, has a passel of mysteries on her hands in this caper.

To wit:
Why has Dad (retired policeman and the founder of Spellman Investigations) suddenly taken up yoga and eating salads?

Why is Mom, the trim Olivia, sneaking out of the house at night and vandalizing a certain motorbike?

Why is David, Isabel's handsome, perfect, attorney brother, staying home from work and spending his days watching television in his pajamas and drinking bourbon?

Who is the mysterious new neighbor with the suspicious name of John Brown? Why does he keep a room locked in his apartment? Is he using his landscaping business to bury bulbs or bodies?

In addition to those and other mysteries, we get to better know Henry Stone, neat and tidy, seasoned police detective, who was introduced in the first book, The Spellman Files. Henry has more sense than the entire dysfunctional Spellman family put together. Rae, Isabel's 15-year-old Froot Loop-eating sister, spends a lot of time with 'her best friend' Henry, to Henry's chagrin. He tries to teach her some manners and encourages her to read Dickens and to do her homework. He introduces her to the time traveling Dr. Who and, as is his way, won't let her watch the newer ones in the British television series until she has watched all the classic episodes from the beginning. 

She in turn accidentally runs over him prior to his giving her a driving lesson. He forgives her but swears he will never give her another lesson. He keeps his promise.

The action and the humor fly by at breakneck speed. Some chapters contain only whip-sharp dialogue.  There are plenty of surveillance jobs, picked locks, B&Es, interrogations, arrests, and GPS trackings to keep the Spellmans hopping. The characters are just quirky enough to be entertaining but not so much that they become unbelievable. Best of all, the mysteries get solved to the satisfaction of Isabel Spellman and the reader. Great fun all around.

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