Izzy Spellman
Created by Lisa Lutz

It's a family affair...

Despite her habit of being arrested, bad girl ISABEL "IZZY" SPELLMAN may just be the "sane one" in her family.

Which may not be saying much.

She's the obstensible bad girl heroine (and narrator) of this series that details the hijinks of a family of private eyes. Izzy's father Albert started the San Francisco-based Spellman Investigations with his wife Olivia and his brother Ray when he retired from the police force, and he's enlisted his wife and two daughters, 30-year-old Izzy and 15-year-old Rae to fill out the ranks. The whole family chips in, except for older brother David, a successful attorney who'd rather have little to do with them (although his upscale law firm frequently employs the family)..

And you sorta can see his point. Even if he is a tight ass. The Spellman clan is definitely peculiar, with more issues than a magazine rack. They all have their own little strenuously guarded secrets and there doesn't seem to be a door in the house (they all live under one roof, including Uncle Ray) without at least two or three locks on it, because they're all also as inquisitive as hell, merrily prying into each others' affairs.

Rae is a Cheetos-chomping teen with a major jones for "recreational surveillance" and her middle-aged pal, deadpan SFPD inspector Henry Stone, the parents (and Ray) are prone to mysterious "disappearances," when they're not being over-protective, and the Get Smart-obsessed Izzy's list of ex-boyfriends (and arrests) is staggering. And we won't even get into David's problems ("the perfect son," according to Izzy).

Adding to the fun, Izzy's wise-cracking narration is intersperesed with lists, footnotes, journal entries and asides that owe at least as much to Ken Bruen as they do to Erma Bombeck.

But, through all the dysfunction and bickerings, misdirection and misunderstandings, not to mention the outright over-the-top zaniness, there's a sense of real warmth and affection here. Fans of Janet Evanovixh's Stephanie Plum or Michael Z. Lewin's Lunghi Detective Agency series will eat this one up.

I just wish they were a little more in the way of mystery in these books -- the cases zip by so fast, they usually only seem to exist as a framework to spin out an amusing anecdote


  • "... Raymond Chandler meets Arrested Development. Zany, witty and full of dark surprises, (The Last Word) is pure fun-and Izzy Spellman, PI, tops the list of 'Fictional Characters I'd Like to Meet for a Bourbon.'"
    -- Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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