Lisa Lutz. Curse of the Spellmans (2008) 409 pp.
Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, eldest daughter in San Francisco’s first family of private investigation, is back, still trying to balance her personal, professional, and family lives—not an easy task when all of your nearest and dearest are highly skilled in the art of surveillance. This time out, Izzy becomes obsessed with her family’s new next door neighbor, a man calling himself John Brown, who—when questioned—gives out contradictory personal information and keeps a locked office in his house. Convinced that he is up to something evil, Izzy pulls out every weapon in her investigating arsenal and succeeds in getting herself into both serious legal trouble (she is arrested four times, once for violating a restraining order!) and physical danger before she uncovers the mysterious Mr. Brown’s secret. In the meantime, she also deals with a personal housing crisis, atones for a series of youthful vandalism indiscretions, loses her best friend, helps out her bartender, tries to teach her younger sister, Rae, how to respect other people’s requests for “space,” watches way too many episodes of Dr. Who, and deepens her relationship with Henry Stone, the highly ethical SFPD inspector who led the search for Rae when she disappeared a year and a half earlier. Could he be destined to become Ex-boyfriend #11?
Setting: San Francisco
MRJ 2008