The Spellmans are back in Lisa Lutz‘s Revenge of the Spellmans, the third in her series about the lovably dysfunctional family of private eyes. The story begins with Izzy, the 31-year-old underachieving middle child, attending court-ordered therapy due to her escapades in her last adventure and bartending at her favorite watering hole while trying to figure out if she wants to continue in the family business. She accepts a seemingly innocuous job of surveillance for a friend of a friend but of course the case turns out to be more complicated than she thought. Soon, Izzy’s caught up in the (un)usual shenanigans we’ve come to expect from this entertaining series.
Lutz keeps everyone from spinning into Caricatureland by infusing her quirky characters with real emotions. Izzy’s 84-year-old lawyer Morty wears grungy Coke-bottle glasses and is a menace behind the wheel but he sees clearly how Izzy really feels about her cop friend Henry Stone. Her brother David may ridicule her for her aimlessness in life but will extend a hand—and a cup of coffee—when Izzy needs it most. And Izzy herself is not a dimwit—she’s very competent at her job and lies to people sometimes because she just can’t bring herself to spoil their happiness.
I think what I like most about these characters is that they evolve (unlike, cough, Stephanie Plum). Lutz puts several of them through some big life changes in this book, positioning them nicely for future installments. Don’t be left clueless—check out this case (and the previous ones) and follow the Spellmans on their grand adventures.
Nerd Verdict: Revenge is winning