Lisa Lutz fans (and they are legion) have probably all beat me to reading the new entry in the Spellman series, Trail of the Spellmans. And although I am terrifically fond of Isabelle Spellman and the whole Spellman clan (click here for my review of the third “document”), somehow I missed the book’s pub date last year. Better late than never!
For those who haven’t read the series, here’s the premise: Protagonist Isabelle Spellman is enmeshed in the family business. Mom and Dad Spellman (Olivia and Albert) run a PI firm. Younger sister Rae (smart and smart-alecky) is also on board, but not big brother David. There’s a host of other characters, including family members, love interests, clients and associates. They’re easy to keep track of, because the personalities practically spring off the page.
The series is light hearted, the crimes are not heart-breaking, nobody gets murdered, and quirks abound. The interpersonal relationships take up a lot of psychic energy, but that’s cool – a big part of the charm is figuring out who’s pulling the wool over whose eyes, and why.
So it is situation normal in Trail of the Spellmans. Client A has hired the firm to trail her rich husband, but seems more interested in making sure that she knows where he is than who he is with and what he’s doing. Clients B and C have hired the firm to follow their college student daughter. Quirkily charming obsessive-compulsive client D has hired the firm (specifically, Isabelle) to run over and make sure he hasn’t left the faucet running or the toaster plugged in when he is overcome with faucet-or-toaster related anxiety. And circling back around, something seems to be sort of wrong with Client A’s husband.
This professional investigation work pales in comparison to the personal investigation work. Why is Olivia Spellman suddenly taking on hobby after hobby? What’s up with employee/chef Demetrius (formerly convicted of murder, now exonerated) and his growing friendship with the irascible Grammy Spellman? Why is brother David on the outs with sister Rae, and does it have anything to do with why toddler Sydney does not seem to understand what the word “banana” means? And what’s up with Isabelle’s relationship with boyfriend Henry? Is Henry’s mom Gertie really getting it on with bar-owner Bernie?
I’m making this sound more convoluted than it is. All the plot points get resolved satisfactorily, Izzy has a couple of big life changes but we’re okay with them, and everything works out for the best with the various clients. Read the book, it’s fun. When I told my husband I had finished “the latest Spellman,” he asked “Is that the footnote girl?” and reached for the book.
Indeed, Isabelle Spellman is the footnote girl. Her narrative is peppered with short, hilarious footnotes (not David Foster Wallace footnotes, I promise). There’s also an appendix. If you remember the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, when funny stuff happens during the credits and then Ferris comes out and asks you why you’re still here, that’s what Spellman appendices are like. Highly entertaining.
PS – For those who recall that there was going to be a crime drama based on the Spellmans, no news. IMDB says it’s still in development.