I really loved this book! A great debut for Lisa Lutz. It had a comfortable feel about it, like an old "screwball" or “madcap” movie. A perfect read for a snowy day in the north. This book flowed along like a brook in flood season, finding alternate routes to its destination, with the occasional boulder or tree in its way.
This is a family that works together and lives together, with the exception of the son, David, who has made a career for himself outside of the family business. To say the family is dysfunctional does it a disservice as they are not so much dysfunctional as overzealous in their protection of each other, at the same time trying to protect their individual privacy. The family business is private investigation, the only problem being that they are more apt to be investigating each other than regular clients, at least in this first book.
It's a good thing there are more in the future because I found I wanted more when I was done and continued right on into the preview of the next book. That left me dissatisfied because it made me want the book right now. Fortunately, the next two are already out, “Curse of the Spellmans” and “Revenge of the Spellmans” with a fourth due out shortly, “The Spellmans Strike Again”. I’m only sorry I didn’t read “The Spellman Files” when it first came out.
The characters are wonderful, right down to Milo, the bartender who constantly has to phone Isabel, the main character, to come and get her little sister out of the bar before he gets arrested. My favourite character though, at this point, is Rae, the young sister, who has learned the art "negotiation" (translation blackmail) by the time she is eight.
Isabel is the rebel of the family and blames both the business and her family for all her life failures. She uses the same techniques of surveillance in her search for a boy-friend as in her search for clues. Consequently at the end of this book she has reached Ex-Boyfriend #9. This is a great read, fast and easy, funny and sad sometimes, I even loved the cover with all the pairs of eyes peeking through the newspaper. I recommend it for a relaxing change of pace. 5 stars.