Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">THE INTERVIEW Chapter 1 Seventy-two Hours Later A single lightbulb hangs from the ceiling, its dull glow illuminating the spare decor of this windowless room. I could itemize its contents with my eyes closed: one wooden table, splintered and paint-chipped, surrounded by four rickety chairs; a rotary phone; an old television; and a VCR. I know this room well. Hours of my childhood I lost in here, answering for crimes I probably did commit. But I sit here now answering to a man I have never seen before, for a crime that is still unknown, a crime that I am too afraid to even consider. Inspector Henry Stone sits across from me. He places a tape recorder in the center of the table and switches it on. I can't get a good read on him: early forties, short-cropped salt-and-pepper hair, crisp white shirt, and a perfectly tasteful tie. He might be handsome, but his cold professionalism feels like a mask. His suit seems too pricey for a civil servant and makes me suspicious. But everyone makes me suspicious. "Please state your name and address for the record," says the inspector. "Isabel Spellman. Seventeen ninety-nine Clay Street, San Francisco, California." "Please state your age and date of birth." "I'm twenty-eight. Born April 1, 1978." "Your parents are Albert and Olivia Spellman, is that correct?" "Yes." "You have two siblings: David Spellman, thirty, and Rae Spellman, fourteen. Is that correct?" "Yes." "Please state your occupation and current employer for the record." "I am a licensed private investigator with Spellman Investigations, my parents' PI firm." "When did you first begin working for Spellman Investigations?" Stone asks. "About sixteen years ago." Stone consults his notes and looks up at the ceiling, perplexed. "You would have been twelve?" "That is correct," I respond. "Ms. Spellman," Stone says, "let's start at the beginning." I cannot pinpoint the precise moment when it all began, but I can say for sure that the beginning didn't happen three days ago, one week, one month, or even one year ago. To truly understand what happened to my family, I have to start at the very beginning, and that happened a long time ago. Excerpted from The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Isabel "Izzy" Spellman is a private detective whose story has a twist--the agency she works for is owned by her parents and is located in their home. Izzy's perfect brother, David, worked in the family business before becoming an attorney. Her uncle does contract work for them, and even kid sister Rae is a surveillance genius with a particular talent for picking locks and trailing people. Because of her family's quirkiness, Izzy tries to keep them apart from the new love of her life, Daniel Castillo, D.D.S. But the Spellmans' cheerful, idiosyncratic existence is shadowed by Rae's sudden disappearance. It's hard to believe that this extraordinarily clever book is a debut novel. Lutz showed her comic flair in her screenplay for the film Plan B, a 2001 "mob comedy" starring Diane Keaton, and it sparkles in this book as well. This first title in a new series about the eccentric Spellman family will be a welcome addition to mystery collections of all sizes, and sure to be enjoyed by fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum and Meg Cabot's Heather Wells.--Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib. Media Ctr., AZ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
In a family of private investigators, privacy is nonexistent. The Spellman parents spy on the kids just as much as the kids spy on the parents. But after 28 years of this, middle child Isabelle wants out of the family business. Her parents agree, but only if she solves the 10-year-old cold case of a missing teenage. Amusing and entertaining, Lutz's tale of investigation, family and love is given an additional bemusing touch by Ari Graynor. She grasps the material and Isabelle's resigned disposition of both loving and loathing her family. She captures Isabelle's more emotional responses and the youthful tone of her younger sister, Rae. However, she is occasionally too breathy, literally blowing into the microphone. While these come off as sighs, they still seem to cross that line between narration and interpretation. The abridgment of some of the book's various subplots increases the speed of this already fast paced comedy-mystery. Simultaneous release with the S&S hardcover (Reviews, Jan. 1). (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series will enjoy this clever debut (the first in a series) featuring Izzy Spellman, an irrepressible 28-year-old sleuth who works for her parents' San Francisco PI firm. Members of the dysfunctional and relentlessly nosy Spellman clan include Izzy's 14-year-old sister, Rae, who engages in recreational surveillance (a fancy term for tailing people just for kicks), and her uncle Ray, a cancer survivor and recovering health-food addict who regularly disappears on liquor-drenched Lost Weekends. Scenes showcasing the relationships among the various Spellmans are often laugh-out-loud funny. (The novel's prologue is an amusing example of the boundaries--or lack thereof--between Izzy and her mom and dad). Alas, bit after comic bit does not a mystery novel make, and only toward the end does Lutz pick up the narrative pace. Addicted to Get Smart reruns and forever attracted to the wrong kind of men, Izzy Spellman is definitely an appealing heroine; all this series needs to become a smashing success is a more generous dose of story and suspense. --Allison Block Copyright 2007 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A spirited, funny debut from screenwriter Lutz that mixes chick-lit, mystery and a dose of TV nostalgia. Isabel Spellman has family issues. Her parents are a mismatched pair of private investigators who routinely run credit and background checks on their older daughter's dates. Her Uncle Ray survived a bout of cancer and now makes up for lost time, drinking, smoking and disappearing for days on end. Her amoral baby sister, Rae, negotiates everything for cash or candy, and her brother, David, is distressingly perfect. In its own way, this dysfunctional family works, and 28-year-old "Izzy" works with it, literally, as a PI for Spellman Investigations. A formerly wayward teen, known for her own lost weekends, Izzy has found herself in the nuts and bolts of PI work, from surveillance to lock-picking. But once Izzy falls for ultra-normal Daniel (he's a dentist), she begins to question her lifestyle, with its constant undercurrent of deceit and suspicion. Not that it doesn't fit her misfit personality, with its twin preoccupations of drinking and Get Smart re-runs. "I had always loved the job," she realizes in a moment of clarity. "I just hadn't always liked who I became doing it." But her exit strategy is complicated when her parents stick her on a dead-end case that excites her investigator's instincts; her best friend, Petra, starts acting oddly normal (and having tattoos removed); and Rae disappears. 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, warming up this hilarious debut. A fresh story that works real issues through an offbeat premise. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.