Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Spellmans Strike Again-Lisa Lutz

Hooray, the Spellmans are back! And contrary to their author's original intention, the fourth book in the series may not be the final one. While I'll read anything Lutz puts out, I must say I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to the Spellmans just yet, although the book ends with them in an odd state of peace all around.

So Isabel is back in the family business, and things are going pretty well. She's stepping into her role as the eventual boss after her parents' retirement. Strangely, her parents are pressuring their children for more family activities yet barring them from the house on Wednesdays. The economy is terrible, and that's hitting the business hard, leading to some strange clients. Boyfriend #12, the Irish bartender, isn't into surveillance or her job. Inspector Henry Stone wants to be her friend. He must have spent too much time around her sister Rae, as he has adopted Rae's special tactics for forcing people into friendship. And Rae herself has committed her first felony as part of her "Free Schmidt!" campaign, as she's left off working for Spellman Investigations and gotten into prisoner advocacy work with Maggie Mason. And Olivia Spellman is once again setting up Izzy on dates, this time blackmailing her with the threat of revealing all of the incidents that comprise Prom Night 1994.

It's a busy plot. Lutz manages to weave multiple Spellman plotlines in and out of the work Isabel is doing--a screenwriter who claims his screenplay was stolen, the mysterious disappearance and replacement of the perfect butler, and Isabel's own vendetta against fellow Pi Rick Hartley. One of the best things about the series is the growth and change in the characters. Izzy has grown from someone who pretends to be an adult into a mature person. She's more mentally stable than she's ever been. Read the previous books for details. Yet she's still funny, passionate and tough. Like the rest of the series, it's a visit with a family that is insane but loving in its own boundary-violating way.

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