The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz


9 Critic Reviews

A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise.


The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious mystery series featuring Isabel “Izzy” Spellman (part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry) and her highly functioning yet supremely dysfunctional family of private investigators.

Meet Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors—but the upshot is she’s good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family’s firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people’s privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who’s become addicted to “recreational surveillance”); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed “Lost Weekends”). But when Izzy’s parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy’s new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there’s a hitch: she must take one last job before they’ll let her go—a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

About Lisa Lutz

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Lisa Lutz is the New York Times-bestselling author of the Spellman comedic crime novels. Since 2007, the Spellman series has received Edgar, Anthony, and Macavity nominations, and each title has been a selection of the Indie Next List. Lutz lives in San Francisco. David Hayward is a writer and editor in Northern California. His poetry has won a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Harper's and other magazines. Hayward has an MFA in poetry from the University of California at Irvine. This is his first novel.
Published March 13, 2007 by Simon & Schuster. 372 pages
Genres: Humor & Entertainment, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Education & Reference, Romance. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Apr 15 2012
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The Spellman Files
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1



A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise.

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USA Today

Above average

...The Spellman Files feels like a series of slung-together funny bits and pithy moments better suited to the big screen...

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20Something Reads


Lisa Lutz has delivered that rare thing: a debut novel that is not just fresh...but entertaining. Entertaining without being vapid. Smart without being pretentious.

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The Spellman Files will have you hooked from the prologue. Lutz's spot-on dialogue and the Spellman's wacky family dynamics are wholly entertaining and a fresh twist on the mystery/detective genre.

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Lutz has a unique way of writing that keeps the reader from getting bored. The notes, lists, and chapters of varying length keep the reader engaged.

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Jackson District Library


...these books are very entertaining and satisfying...

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JPL Book Reviews

on Jan 20 2013

... I was fascinated and entertained in a way I’m not sure I can explain and think is addictive.

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on Mar 23 2007

...Lutz never loses her light touch. Like little sister Rae's beloved sugary confections, The Spellman Files goes down easy.

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I'd Rather Be Reading

on Mar 26 2012

The pace is cracking, the writing is witty and unexpected and hilarious. I enjoyed every single page written about this delightfully dysfunctional family.

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