The fifth installment in Lisa Lutz’s Spellman series has arrived. We reviewed the fourth back in 2010. Makes me laugh to reread my post that day — the movie version never happened, obviously. Ironic since The Spellman Files began life as a screenplay.
I was on the Alex Awards the year The Spellman Files made the list, and Lisa was scheduled to speak at our program at ALA the following summer. She broke her leg very badly just a couple days before and had to cancel. Four books later, I finally had a chance to meet her and hear her speak at a Simon & Schuster librarian preview a couple months ago. She was a lot of fun — and I’m telling you this is because she mentioned her wish to do more school visits. Although, given her success with getting kids to read her books…check out this video. (Just kidding!)
If you’re at PLA and reading this, Lisa is scheduled to appear on the AAP Mystery Author’s Panel tomorrow, Friday, at 10:45am. Wish I was there!
Adult/High School–This addition to the series continues to follow the comic adventures of a family detective agency. While there are references to the previous books, it can stand alone. The cases private detective Izzy Spellman takes on are hardly dark or dangerous. Walter’s anxieties require that he have someone check his home when he’s out, just in case he left the bathtub running or forgot to unplug the toaster. At first when Izzy is called to verify that everything is OK in the apartment, she considers it a simple service for Walter’s peace of mind. Then small signs of an intruder start escalating, and she has to identify who is playing games with Walter’s psyche. Another case involves over-protective parents who want their college-age daughter followed every moment to ensure she isn’t tempted to get into trouble. Finally a wife’s surveillance of her husband makes little sense until Izzy discovers her true motive. As in the other installments, the cases are secondary to the melodrama of Izzy, her parents, her younger sister, and her older brother and his family. Izzy narrates the one-upmanship that characterizes family relations through a wickedly sarcastic and immature point of view, with a sprinkling of wise-cracking footnotes bringing additional humor. Colorful secondary characters contribute to the overall madcap feel. Recommend the entire series to teens who enjoy the light tone and flavor of Janet Evanovich’s “Stephanie Plum” series.–Priscille Dando, Robert E. Lee High School, Fairfax County, VA