Friday, March 12, 2010

Book Review - Lisa Lutz's The Spellmans Strike Again

The Spellmans Strike Again (The Spellmans Book 4) by Lisa Lutz
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Book Provided by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 16th, 2010
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
Rating: ★★★★★
To Preorder

The Spellman Clan is no longer at war... they are now bonding... there have already been two camping trips... in fact an all out family brawl might improve the situation and stop the exposure to the great outdoors and what passes for food at the Sunday night dinners... But work continues apace and aside from the fact, that with her boyfriend Connor's grudging acquiescence, Izzy is dating lawyers to keep her mom quite about an incident at Prom, things seem as settled as they can be with the Spellmans around. But things can't remain stable for long in Isabel's life with the two intriguing cases she has and fixtures from lights to doorknobs mysteriously disappearing from 1799 Clay Street. Plus Morty keeps calling her "from the edge" about how he wants to return to the Frisco. Henry, despite Izzy's avoidance of him after their kiss, seems really bent on getting their friendship back. Rae's newest obsession, thanks to working for Maggie, is to free the wrongly imprisoned, mainly a man named Schimdt. She has t-shirts and everything. Rae's obsession, in true Isabel fashion, makes her overzealous and she overshoots her mark and ends up in serious trouble. On the plus side, she might get to stay out of the Ivy league and with her new boyfriend due to having an arrest record. But Rae's meddlesome ways might help Isabel in her taking down Harkey... that most corrupt of PIs.

This latest installment is bittersweet. Being billed as the "uproarious fourth and final installment" I didn't think I'd be able to let go of my favorite family. I have two good reports on that score, the first, if this is the final installment I'm content with the ending, second, straight from Lisa "what I can say right now is that there won't be another Spellman book in March, 2011. I've been working on other projects. However, I think I will probably do at least one more Spellman book after that." So good news on both fronts.

In the forth Spellman book Izzy definitely seems more mature. She has a steady boyfriend, even if she's dating other men in the form of the legal brief kind and has signed a contract forbidding her from marrying Connor. There is always the Henry question... which does find closure... eventually. But despite Isabel's new found maturity, the antics of her family, along with her most interesting case yet, make this another great book by Lisa Lutz. Aside from her general snooping and surveillance on her family members Izzy has two cases, one involving a scriptwriter that is definitely more than it seems, and one that is straight out of an Agatha Christie mystery. The second is obviously my favorite, Anglophile that I am. The case involves a Mr. Franklin Winslow and his palatial Pacific Heights mansion and his absent valet, Mason Graves. As Isabel notes when arriving at his estate, she can see why her mother likes working for him, "it was like briefly inhabiting a life-sized game of Clue." The Spellmans usually run background checks on his ever rotating employees, but this case is different. Mr. Winslow relied on his valet for everything and there might be some reason for his disappearance. What is required is a spy/valet... and Isabel has just the man for the job, her friend Len. Of course she didn't really realize that he'd take to being Hobson to Mr. Winslow's Arthur quite so readily as "Mr. Leonard"... but that's actor's for you.

The one aspect I found interesting and different was the campaigning for the wrongfully imprisoned that seizes the female Spellman siblings. While it's a natural progression given Maggie's line of work as a lawyer and her being more incorporated into the family, I found it very different then any case before. While the books have dealt with crime and the seedy underbelly of life before, this felt almost too real. Hyper-real within the world of the Spellmans. It showed the petty squabbles that landed Isabel in prison as a kind of candy coated game prison, like in Monopoly where you wait your three turns and are released, whereas this prison is totally real. While I'm not sure if this jives with the whole series I think it was necessary because this stark reality shows more than anything that Isabel has grown up and that she understands life more than before. And while I liked the ending of this book, some aspects more than others, and I can say goodbye to them, if I must... I'll still crave a next chapter!

Make sure to enter my Surfeit of Spying Spellmans Giveaway to win this, or any of the other Spellman books. All signed 1st editions!


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