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3.7 out of 5 stars
15
3.7 out of 5 stars
The Spellman Files (Spellman Mysteries 1)
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on 19 August 2008
This is a fantastic first book, I enjoyed it thoroughly and am quite happy that there is already a sequel out there.

The plot kept me waiting to find out what happened all through, it made me laugh, cry and turn every page waiting to see what next twist would come to upset Izzy's life - which was already filled with enough 'KAOS' as it was.

There were a couple of plot flaws - like the end of her 'last' case, she just seemed to accept the conclusion without question - which is opposite to her character all through the rest of the book, but it would have dragged on too much had she not done this so I can deal with that.
And the other odd thing, but none of it ruined the story, I loved it to the end. Read this for fun, it's not trashy chic-lit, it's not hard-core thriller, it's a little bit of everything rolled into one. Fab!
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VINE VOICEon 6 November 2008
The Spellmans are a family of Private investigators living in San Francisco, there's Mum, Dad, Uncle Ray and three children David, Isabel and Rae. The novel is narrated by 28 year-old Isabel; a women who enters buildings via windows and thinks nothing of using blackmail and surveillance in order to get things to go her way. The trouble is...so do the rest of her family! This book, which is the first in a series, is really introducing us to the family and getting to know them all as individuals. My favourite was the youngest daughter, Rae, who is a real bundle of trouble and can be found in bars drinking ginger ale pretending its whiskey or tailing old people round town in order to hone her skills.

There isn't a great deal of plot to the novel, except that Isabel tries to break free from the family and agrees to one last case before she leaves the family business; it's a missing person's case that has been cold for 15 years. There are also Isabel's disastrous attempts at having a love life and her pursuit of an attractive dentist.

If you come from, or have ever wished you come from, an eccentric but loving family you'll love this book. I'm looking forward to the next one!
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on 5 February 2010
This is the first book in the Spellman Series and I absolutely loved it. I found it refreshing and funny and although the Spellman family is bizarre, weird and bordering on completely insane, I simply adored this dysfunctional family.

Isabel, who is the main protagonist and tells the story from a first person narrative, is such a great character. She's strong, feisty and a teeny bit nuts. Brought into the family business, a private detective agency, and the life of a PI at the age of twelve meant that Isabel's teenage years were far from normal. She didn't help the matter by becoming a delinquent, and, with the help of her best friend Petra, causing complete havoc. From knocking over garbage bins on bin night and being hauled down to the police station, at the embarrassment of her father, who used to be a police inspector, to re-landscaping a neighbours back garden with a pair of garden scissors.

Isabel rebels against her family, and this is in part a coming of age story, and although most of it is told in a series of flashbacks by Izzy, aged twenty eight, it really gives you an insight into her past and that which molded her into the person she is today. Izzy is also the complete opposite to her perfect, grade-A student brother, David, and so thinks that to keep the equilibrium, she has to be at the other end of the spectrum: not so perfect and a complete pain in the arse. Isabel's sister, Rae, is also a fantastic character. With witty retorts and an edge to her personality beyond her twelve years, Rae is funny and endearing.

Isabel is a very smart cookie, although sometimes she has a skewed outlook on life, like lying to the new man in her life, Daniel, by pretending to be a teacher. From changing the way she dresses to more 'teacher-like' and rushing to a school to intercept him, when he is popping by to take her to lunch. Izzy knows this is not the best way to impress her new man, but thinks it's better than the alternative... knowing that she is a PI and worse, meeting her family.

The writing is very clever and flows well. At times it is so fast-paced I could barely keep up. The story is great and gets even better with the introduction of the Snow Case and the mysterious disappearance of a boy called Andrew Snow. We then got to see Isabel doing her job: sleuthing. But when she decides that her family and her job is interfering with her having a 'normal' life, madness ensues. The Spellman's follow each other, bug one another's rooms, listens in on each other's phone calls and interrogates each other, which ends the story on a climax that's satisfying and part of which is also rather sad.

Isabel is a quirky character but immensely likable, as were the other characters in the book, even David, who could be a pompous arse at times. To have Isabel as a friend would be a riot and life would definitely not be boring.

Verdict:

The Spellman Files is a fantastically fun and light-hearted read, but by no means fluffy. There is substance here and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. I am really looking forward to reading the next book in the series, The Spellman's Curse, and finding out what other mischief Isabel and her family can get themselves into.

I actually gave this book 9/10 on my blog, but Amazon doesn't offer half stars.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 October 2007
What do you get when you combine a dysfunctional family composed of people who are more than normally weird with a detective agency and two missing person cases? It's a recipe for laughs, hurt feelings, unbelievable double crosses, and unusual solutions. I recommend The Spellman Files to those who would like some more zaniness with their mysteries.

Mom and Dad run a detective agency that has employed their children as operatives since they were quite young. The perfect older brother, David, has escaped into "normal" life as a well-paid lawyer . . . but the family's web of intrigue keeps pulling him back into the chaos. He's also a good source of business for the detective agency, so it's all right . . . as long as he pays on time.

Uncle Ray is Dad's brother (an ex-cop), and he's lonely. But Ray's attraction to the family's company is more than offset by his need for a good card game, lots of booze, and ladies who rent by the hour. When Ray indulges, these lead to dozens of lost weekends where it takes a detective to track him down.

Ray is also the bane of young Rae's life, the 14-year-old surveillance-obsessed daughter, who loves her candy and sugary cereals. Rae is growing up a little too fast for her own good, and the tension between her world-wise ways and her emotional needs adds a lot to the story.

But the center of the action (and the book's narrator) is 28-year-old Isabel (Izzy) Spellman who shares some of Ray's love for the bottle and Rae's angst about their family. Izzy has problems with men, exemplified by the fact that she sees them as future ex-boy friends before she's been on a first date. She is also pretty dependent on her family.

Are detectives likely to leave well enough alone? No! Meddling reaches a new height of weirdness as the family snoops on one another.

As the book opens, Rae is missing and Izzy is being grilled by the police about Rae's disappearance. That grilling continues in episodes throughout the book with the rest of the book as a flashback about how Rae came to be missing.

Izzy is having a hard time becoming a mature adult. She needs more space from her family, but really isn't ready for handling the space. Mom and Dad worry and meddle accordingly. Annoyed, Izzy regresses into childish pranks. Rae wants to be close to her sister, something that's hard to do when they are so far apart in age.

In the middle of this family sniping, Izzy reluctantly agrees to work on a cold missing person's case. It's clear that something is fishy about how the person came to be missing, and Izzy turns up a lot of suspicious activity surrounding the event. But few would ever solve this mystery from the clues provided, even though they are fair ones. While the case is seemingly simple, it's not quite what it appears. For excellence of this mystery, I upgraded the book to be above average.

I found the humor to be overdone in the book. The spying-on-one-another gags wear thin after a while.

Rae, however, is a very interesting character and I look forward to reading more about her. I suspect this would have been a better book with Rae as the narrator than with Izzy as the center of attention.
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on 11 August 2011
The Spellman Files is, I have to say, like no other book I've ever read. It starts with a very intriguing prologue, that sets the scene nicely for the novel you're about to read as Isabel gets herself into a car chase. We then see Izzy is taking part in a police interview, because something's happened before we go right back to the beginning. To how Spellman's, the PI (private investigator/ive) firm, came around and to how Izzy became a PI herself. The Spellman's are like no family you will ever meet and the whole clan make it their business to know the business of everyone else. Izzy's mum and dad take it so far that they even get her 14-year-old sister Rae to spy on her so they can find out who her boyfriend is!

Izzy recounts the whole tale as to how she ended up being interviewed by the police and it's set out per incident. There are car chases, lost weekends, the dentist war... and it's mind-boggling in the very best way. There are twists and turns, there's inter-family wars, there's threats and there's Rae and her negotiation tactics. It is one of the funniest books I've ever read, I literally had tears in my eyes through laughter. The lengths Izzy and her family go to keep tabs on each other and stop anyone from spilling any beans is completely insane and I've never laughed so much while reading a novel. At when I wasn't laughing, I was sat there with an amused grin on my face eagerly awaiting the next big laugh.

All of the characters are certifiable. There's no doubt that the Spellmans love each other, but they do have some serious boundary issues. Izzy is one of the freshest female characters I've come across in a while. She's spunky, she's full of life, but mainly she's not perfect. She was a bit of a wild child who straightened herself out and I loved her. She's shot up my list of favourite characters, in fact her whole family has. Her mum and dad are crazy, but in a way I understood the fact they tailed their own daughter; it's what they do. Rae was my second-favourite character, her negotiation skills are legendary, and I loved her war with Uncle Ray. Finally, there's David, the only Spellman family member not part of Spellman's. He's a lawyer instead but he's just as involved as everyone else and he's spied on just as much as the rest of them!

Although the Spellman's are totally nuts, they are the best family I've come across. I want to be part of their madcap world, and I love each and every family member. Maybe the lengths they go are a bit extreme (and far-fetched) but in the realm of the book, they fit perfectly. And it's a stunning book. It's not a crime novel, not really, nor would I say it's a Chick Lit novel. It's sort of inbetween, I suppose. I didn't expect to finish the book as quickly as I did, but once I was sucked in, I was desperate to know the mystery, desperate to find out how it had all come about. I loved every page of the novel, and I was sat to see it finish. The book does end on a bit of a sad note. Overall I was hugely satisfied with Lutz's debut novel, so much so that I'll be buying the three further Spellman books immediately. The Spellmans are a family you want to meet!
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 October 2007
What do you get when you combine a dysfunctional family composed of people who are more than normally weird with a detective agency and two missing person cases? It's a recipe for laughs, hurt feelings, unbelievable double crosses, and unusual solutions. I recommend The Spellman Files to those who would like some more zaniness with their mysteries.

Mom and Dad run a detective agency that has employed their children as operatives since they were quite young. The perfect older brother, David, has escaped into "normal" life as a well-paid lawyer . . . but the family's web of intrigue keeps pulling him back into the chaos. He's also a good source of business for the detective agency, so it's all right . . . as long as he pays on time.

Uncle Ray is Dad's brother (an ex-cop), and he's lonely. But Ray's attraction to the family's company is more than offset by his need for a good card game, lots of booze, and ladies who rent by the hour. When Ray indulges, these lead to dozens of lost weekends where it takes a detective to track him down.

Ray is also the bane of young Rae's life, the 14-year-old surveillance-obsessed daughter, who loves her candy and sugary cereals. Rae is growing up a little too fast for her own good, and the tension between her world-wise ways and her emotional needs adds a lot to the story.

But the center of the action (and the book's narrator) is 28-year-old Isabel (Izzy) Spellman who shares some of Ray's love for the bottle and Rae's angst about their family. Izzy has problems with men, exemplified by the fact that she sees them as future ex-boy friends before she's been on a first date. She is also pretty dependent on her family.

Are detectives likely to leave well enough alone? No! Meddling reaches a new height of weirdness as the family snoops on one another.

As the book opens, Rae is missing and Izzy is being grilled by the police about Rae's disappearance. That grilling continues in episodes throughout the book with the rest of the book as a flashback about how Rae came to be missing.

Izzy is having a hard time becoming a mature adult. She needs more space from her family, but really isn't ready for handling the space. Mom and Dad worry and meddle accordingly. Annoyed, Izzy regresses into childish pranks. Rae wants to be close to her sister, something that's hard to do when they are so far apart in age.

In the middle of this family sniping, Izzy reluctantly agrees to work on a cold missing person's case. It's clear that something is fishy about how the person came to be missing, and Izzy turns up a lot of suspicious activity surrounding the event. But few would ever solve this mystery from the clues provided, even though they are fair ones. While the case is seemingly simple, it's not quite what it appears. For excellence of this mystery, I upgraded the book to be above average.

I found the humor to be overdone in the book. The spying-on-one-another gags wear thin after a while.

Rae, however, is a very interesting character and I look forward to reading more about her. I suspect this would have been a better book with Rae as the narrator than with Izzy as the center of attention.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 October 2007
Meet the Spellman Family. The older generation is made up of Albert, his wife Olivia, and his brother Ray. Albert and Olivia own and run Spellman Investigations, a PI firm in San Francisco. Among their employees are their two daughters, twenty-something Izzy and 14-year-old Rae. The only member of the family to escape the PI business is Izzy's older brother David who became a lawyer.

The family is anything but normal. Uncle Ray regularly vanishes for extended weekends and only returns when tracked down. Izzy regularly runs a complete background check on her boyfriends so her parents can't surprise her with anything later. Rae thinks "recreational surveillance" is a hobby

And no one respects anyone else's privacy. Double and triple locks on bedroom doors mean nothing. Yet that doesn't mean that people don't have secrets. And life in the Spellman house can be very entertaining and funny.

Even though this book deals with private investigators, this isn't a mystery novel. Yes, there are a few mysteries, but that isn't the point. The book is all about exploring the family dynamic of a very dysfunctional family. Yet it does it with love, warmth, and humor. We get the story from Izzy's point of view. And while she is often frustrated with her family, we can tell she loves them.

The book starts out a little slowly, but the laughs pick up as the story progresses. I found myself laughing out loud several times and chucking many more. The characters seem like types on the surface, but once we get to know them, we see so much more.

This book is quirky, offbeat, and well worth reading. If that sounds like something you would like, track down this book today.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 16 October 2007
What do you get when you combine a dysfunctional family composed of people who are more than normally weird with a detective agency and two missing person cases? It's a recipe for laughs, hurt feelings, unbelievable double crosses, and unusual solutions. I recommend The Spellman Files to those who would like some more zaniness with their mysteries.

Mom and Dad run a detective agency that has employed their children as operatives since they were quite young. The perfect older brother, David, has escaped into "normal" life as a well-paid lawyer . . . but the family's web of intrigue keeps pulling him back into the chaos. He's also a good source of business for the detective agency, so it's all right . . . as long as he pays on time.

Uncle Ray is Dad's brother (an ex-cop), and he's lonely. But Ray's attraction to the family's company is more than offset by his need for a good card game, lots of booze, and ladies who rent by the hour. When Ray indulges, these lead to dozens of lost weekends where it takes a detective to track him down.

Ray is also the bane of young Rae's life, the 14-year-old surveillance-obsessed daughter, who loves her candy and sugary cereals. Rae is growing up a little too fast for her own good, and the tension between her world-wise ways and her emotional needs adds a lot to the story.

But the center of the action (and the book's narrator) is 28-year-old Isabel (Izzy) Spellman who shares some of Ray's love for the bottle and Rae's angst about their family. Izzy has problems with men, exemplified by the fact that she sees them as future ex-boy friends before she's been on a first date. She is also pretty dependent on her family.

Are detectives likely to leave well enough alone? No! Meddling reaches a new height of weirdness as the family snoops on one another.

As the book opens, Rae is missing and Izzy is being grilled by the police about Rae's disappearance. That grilling continues in episodes throughout the book with the rest of the book as a flashback about how Rae came to be missing.

Izzy is having a hard time becoming a mature adult. She needs more space from her family, but really isn't ready for handling the space. Mom and Dad worry and meddle accordingly. Annoyed, Izzy regresses into childish pranks. Rae wants to be close to her sister, something that's hard to do when they are so far apart in age.

In the middle of this family sniping, Izzy reluctantly agrees to work on a cold missing person's case. It's clear that something is fishy about how the person came to be missing, and Izzy turns up a lot of suspicious activity surrounding the event. But few would ever solve this mystery from the clues provided, even though they are fair ones. While the case is seemingly simple, it's not quite what it appears. For excellence of this mystery, I upgraded the book to be above average.

I found the humor to be overdone in the book. The spying-on-one-another gags wear thin after a while.

Rae, however, is a very interesting character and I look forward to reading more about her. I suspect this would have been a better book with Rae as the narrator than with Izzy as the center of attention.
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on 10 August 2014
I ordered The Spellman Files as it had been described to me fitting into the ‘tart noir’ sub-genre. When the book arrived the cover conveyed ‘chick-lit’ and I wasn’t at sure the book would be to my taste. Thankfully the cover is somewhat misleading, especially since the main character, Izzy, is more likely to dress like a Nirvana fan than a lead character in Sex in the City. That said, The Spellman Files is kind-of Bridget Jones as private investigator. The result is a humorous tale of family in-fighting, failed romances, and a difficult cold case. The real strength of the book is the characterisation of idiosyncratic and somewhat dysfunctional Spellman family, who run a detective agency and know all manner of spying and tracking tricks, and their various interactions and escapades. The cold case Izzy is working on is interesting and has a nice resolution, and to provide context, Lutz slots in a lot of back story via a series of entertaining side tales. Overall, an enjoyable, well told story that is more than a chick-lit foray into crime fiction.
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on 27 July 2009
If you expect this book to be a passionate romance or a thrilling detectie story, you may be disappointed, since it is rather average in both those categories. The book is, however, uncommonly funny in the description of its characters, its observations and storytelling, all of which makes it a very enjoyable read.
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