“Fast-paced, irreverent, and very funny, The Spellman Files is like Harriet the Spy for grown-ups.”


Izzy Spellman is a young adult (28 years old) detective, working for her parent’s detective agency, and trying to trick them into giving her privacy. Yeah, good luck with that, Iz.

She’s also trying to find and keep a boyfriend (the list of exes and how her past relationships ended is a hoot!), figure out why her up-to-now-perfect brother is being so squirrelly, deal with the drunk “Lost Weekend” uncle who lives with them, helping her kid sister cut her surveillance teeth, and solve a ‘cold case’ from her parent’s old files.

Mixed into this light mystery, is a story of a highly functional, highly dysfunctional family. They love, they fight, they care, they invade one another’s privacy, but they also make mistakes and they make up.

The language, the culture, and the rules of working with family are a little different than working with strangers. Lutz does a good job of pinning down what it’s like for a woman trying to break free of the family business, a little, but also depending on them for her livelihood, and being really good at the family business. The Spellman’s detective work permeates everything about their personal life, including doing complete background checks on all friends/potential boyfriends even at the risk of alienating their children.

The cold case story was almost ‘extra’… I was so enjoying getting to know Izzy and her crazy family that I didn’t really need a mystery thrown in. I see that this is a ‘series’ book, so I imagine this book has set up the characters for some madcap adventures down the road. I look forward to reading about Izzy doing some “rooftop drinking” (one of her favorite things) and her little sister doing some great undercover work… once she gets out of high school.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I work in MY family’s family business, and although we don’t set up surveillance on people, or don disguises, or search through court records together — working with family is tough. Lutz does a good job of showing what it’s like to never get to be fully ‘away’ from work as long as you’re engaged with your family.


Reviewed by:

Kerri Beany Foulks

Added 29th May 2016

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Kerri Beany Foulks