by Sukey HowardMay, 2007
All in the Family
Crime caper and chick-lit have met before with best-selling results think Stephanie Plum and Bubbles Yablonsky. So, it's no surprise that that there was big buzz (a sound that makes publishers see big bucks) when The Spellman Files, the first of a series by Lisa Lutz, hit the scene. Private eye Isabel Spellman, the 28-year-old lead (yes, movie rights have been sold), with good looks and bad taste in boyfriends, works for her delightfully dysfunctional family-run sleuthing business and has done so since she could pick a lock and follow a suspect, not as a toddler but soon after. When Izzy, blinded by love for a straight-arrow dentist who finds her family way beyond weird, decides to quit the family firm, she agrees to take on one more case, an ice-cold, never-solved missing person problem that, in turn, may put her precocious younger sister, already deft in the art of detecting, in harm's way. Bright, fun (well, we're used to corpses as comedy), with the added dimension of real family dynamics played out in a zany context. Ari Graynor's narration does Izzy and Lisa proud.