Tessa's series review: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz

    Perfect sitcom material! The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz are the height of sleuth spoofs! I love these books (five now), but be prepared for crude language and family dysfunction, all in a terrifically funny way, with love at the bottom, underneath that sweet crude.
    Isabel Spellman tells the stories, beginning when she is in her late 20's, bringing us up to speed little by little while carrying the current family situation forward.  The Spellmans run a family detective agency, the parents and their daughters. Their oldest, a son named David, is a lawyer who lives nearby. Rae is their youngest child, and she's still in school when the series opens, but she helps with cases part-time. Isabel is their middle child and has been a rebel and delinquent for many years. Frequent asides concerning exboyfriends are necessary in order to understand her actions. She works full-time for the agency and feuds with her sister and other family members as the occasion arises.  They feud with one another as well.
    If you have a hatred for footnotes, these books will cure you--her footnotes are some of the best parts!  And the appendices match in appeal and taste (or lack thereof). For instance, in the first book Lutz only used footnotes in her acknowledgements--which were hilarious.  The acknowledgements were mostly about money.  And its frequent borrowing. Footnote 7 states "She is only four, therefore, I have not borrowed money from her." That's after thanking the kid for loaning her name! The final paragraph acknowledges friends from a detective business, one presumes.  She insists in the footnote, "Seriously, this book is not about you."
    There are frequent practical jokes, window entrances and exits, and lots of surveillance--especially of one another. Isabel is not happy, but she's fun. She is the perfect malfunctioning female--I would like her for a friend. I think. While these books are very entertaining and satisfying, they are not particularly literary or challenging. Who cares? ~ Tessa J. Eger        4 out of 5 stars