The Spellman Files: Reviews

What Others have Said About The Spellman Files

"She's part Bridget Jones, part Columbo. Lisa Lutz's resilient P.I. Isabel Spellman emerges as a thoroughly unusual heroine in her delightful, droll debut novel, The Spellman Files."

—Donna Freydkin
USA Today (4/23/07)

"When a book this delightful lands in a reviewer's lap, it's like Christmas. I get to read it? And I get to keep it? And this is WORK? . . . Lisa Lutz has delivered that rare thing: a debut novel that is not just fresh (so many of them are) but entertaining. Entertaining without being vapid. Smart without being pretentious."

Bethanne Kelly Patrick

"Simply put, this tale of the Spellman family is irresistible, and you hate to see the romp end."

—Patricia Corrigan
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (3/25/07)

"... the plot churns on Izzy's work deconstructing two missing person cases . . . investigations that cause her to question just how much family dysfunction she can tolerate. It's not the mystery of how these cases ultimately resolve that will pull readers through, but the whip-smart sass of the story's heroine, ace detective of her own heart."

—Sue Corbett
People Magazine (3/26/07)

"The thriller genre, with its set archetypes and devices, sets the stage for Lutz's investigation of the nuclear family and its uncertain loyalties. Why do we love? And more importantly, in an age of 'urban tribes' and shifting personal allegiances, why do we continue to love our families? While earlier writers like Chandler and McDonald may have favored Freudian plotlines, Lutz gives her readers a warmer, fuzzier picture of humanity. Family, for Lutz, is a source of pain, but never an agent. Though the book grapples with serious issues, and delivers the occasional dark moment, Lutz never loses her light touch. Like little sister Rae's beloved sugary confections, The Spellman Files goes down easy. (And, say other members of the KQED Arts & Culture blogger collective, it's a great book to take to the beach!)"

—Cynthia Houng,
KQED Arts & Culture (3/23/07)

"Lutz is one smart-mouthed writer, but the genuine surprise of The Spellman Files is that it's almost as touching as it is funny.

Sherryl Connelly,
New York Daily News (3/12/07)

"With a cast of endearing lunatics and an engaging plot that will make you care and have you laughing out loud, Lutz has stormed onto the literary scene . . . In a world where sanity may be overrated, The Spellman Files offers a touch of craziness and puts the fun back into dysfunctional."

—Jay Straffod,
Richmond-Times Dispatch (3/11/07)

"The Spellman Files is a zany and hilarious debut for Lisa Lutz."

—Marilyn Dahl
Shelf Awareness (3/7/07)

"Twenty-eight-year-old Isabel Spellman faces crises commonly found in many a romantic comedy: parental interference, a quest for independent assertion and solutions to her inability to find a long-term mate. But by making Izzy a private investigator—and a damn good one—and an employee of her parents' agency, first-timer Lutz puts a fresh, quirky spin on a genre too often caught up in tropes dating back to Chandler and Hammett. When Izzy's on a case, her investigative expertise, familiarity with computer searches and top-shelf equipment are never in doubt. But that all falls by the wayside when dealing with her family, who'd much rather tap phones, prepare dossiers and follow their quarry than argue or resolve simmering issues. The high-concept premise would be unworkable if not for Lutz's deep understanding of how and why her cast of characters—especially hard-drinking Uncle Ray and Izzy's adolescent sister Rae, the sleeper star of the book—interact and relate to one another on such dysfunctional terms. There are real crimes in this book for those who crave them, but The Spellman Files wisely concerns itself more with investigating one family's bizarre expression of love."

—Sarah Weinman,
Baltimore Sun (3/4/07)

"A spirited, funny debut from screenwriter Lutz that mixes chick-lit, mystery and a dose of TV nostalgia. . . . Written in a conversational first-person that includes Izzy's "files," such as her list of ex-boyfriends and their exit lines, these various mysteries all come together in a rush of humor and chaos. It's all casual, swift and hip, but an underpinning of reality, the complex emotions of growing up and letting go, shows through occasionally, arming up this hilarious debut. A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise."

—Kirkus, Starred review

"Cracking the case can get complicated and outrageously wacky when a family of detectives is involved, but Lutz has a blast doing it in her delicious debut. Isabel "Izzy Spellman . . . could easily pass as Buffy or Veronica Mars's wiser and funnier older sister . . . When Rae [Izzy's younger sister—"a nightmarish Nancy Drew"] disappears, Izzy and her family must learn some serious lessons in order to find her. Can the family that snoops together stay together? Stay tuned as a dynamic new series unfolds."

—Publishers Weekly

"Lutz magically pulls a rabbit out of her hat at almost every turn, but where the seat-of-your-pants thrills go soft, she fills the void with beautiful poignancy (just like Wes Anderson). This is just the start of the Spellman clan, and the jacket copy hints to a series of books forthcoming, which is perfect, because Lisa Lutz deserves a big audience."

—Frank Bascombe, (10/20/06)