RogerBW's Blog

Curse of the Spellmans, Lisa Lutz 11 February 2022

2008 mystery-adjacent, second of its series. Izzy Spellman, private investigator and all-round mess, gets arrested for spying on her secretive neighbour.

Well, that's the story, but this is much more Izzy's narrative as she fumbles her way through life. (On first seeing said neighbour, she considers him as "potential ex-boyfriend material"; she has no illusions about her suitability for, well, anything really.)

The Spellmans are all strange and quite unpleasant people and one wouldn't want to spend any time with them, but at the same time they can be enjoyable to read about from a safe distance; one even starts to hope that they will succeed at things. And to be fair most of the people they interact with are under no illusions: for example, Izzy's actor friends quite sensibly refuse to get drawn into setting up a fake mugging or drug deal for her, and are reluctant even to let her spread out a potential piece of evidence on their large loft floor.

"If I don't find any blood on it, it's yours," I said, hoping the offer of a potential gift might make my hosts less grumpy.

One of the odder points for me was an appreciation of specific episodes in the revived Doctor Who series: it pins the book down very firmly in time, and leaves me wondering why these supposedly technically up-to-date people are all using laptops rather than phones. (Yeah, the iPhone launched in 2007, probably when this book was in draft, but the problem is that these are just the sort of people who would have the latest gadget, and if you hadn't reminded me that this wasn't happening in the 1990s I wouldn't have noticed.)

I was reminded of the early Stephanie Plum stories, when they weren't played purely for laughs but still offered something like characterisation. There's even some slight sign of change here. I hope this continues.

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Previous in series: The Spellman Files | Series: The Spellmans | Next in series: Revenge of the Spellmans

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