Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Isabel "Izzy" Spellman is good at her job. She might be a disaster at love and other pursuits you and I would call "normal," but she genuinely likes her job and shows great talent for it.

But then, why wouldn't she? It runs in the family.

The Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz, is the first in a hilarious series about Spellman Investigations - mom, dad, brother, sis - they spend more time spying on each other than on their clients' jobs. The chaos wends from case to case, and Lutz has organized the book thusly.

The author, who wrote the screenplay for the 2000 film Plan B (which, by coincidence, features friend Ruthanne Wolfe's niece Traci Ann Wolfe, previously mentioned on this blog), shows great skill at quick character development. In fact, this seems more like a tryout for a weekly TV series along the lines of Monk or House.

Here's an excerpt from The Snow Case:

As Uncle Ray bit his tongue and entered the Wax Museum, I knocked on the door of Joseph and Abigail snow's house on Myrtle Avenue in Marin County. When Mrs. Snow opened the door, I was blasted by an overwhelming fragrance that emanated from the home. I would later learn that the scent was potpourri, but there were too many other effects offending my sensibilities at that moment for me to investigate the odor.

Abigail Snow, now in her early sixties, was wearing an outdated floral dress that looked like it came from the wardrobe of a 1950s sitcom star. Her hair, as well, was trapped in the past and in half a can of hairspray. She was probably about five foot six, but her stocky build, which was more sturdy than plump, made her seem taller and oddly intimidating. While her attire was (in my estimation) unflattering, it was kept in immaculate condition. When I entered the house, I would discover that this was a theme for Mrs. Snow - tasteless, but immaculate.

Back in November when I put my order in for this book, I knew it would appeal to fans of Stephanie Plum, although it's hard to see Izzy having much of a successful romantic life.

Janet Evanovich, look out!

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz
ISBN 9781416532392 March 2007 Simon & Schuster (Hardcover) $25

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