Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Curse of the Spellmans

By Lisa Lutz

Izzy Spellman is the middle child. She has an older brother who is "perfect": smart, educated, successful, polite, tidy, and good-looking. She has a younger sister who is just turning sixteen and is ripe for trouble. Izzy herself had a troubled adolescence but now she is a grown woman, grown, but not a grown-up. For years she has worked in her parents' private investigation firm but Izzy has often tried to disentangle herself from her parents' lives, so far unsuccessfully.
Growing up with investigators for parents kind of created a climate of distrust and suspicion. Her parents were notorious for spying on their children, which is one of the reasons that Izzy wants some space. But her parents' bad habits have certainly rubbed off on Izzy and she uses the same tactics her parents used on her on her own relationships. The result is that she runs through boyfriends pretty fast.
When an attractive fellow named John Brown moves in next door, he and Izzy start dating. But Izzy can't get over her suspicious ways and soon starts to snoop. John is not the sort of man who will tolerate having his privacy invaded and the relationship is quickly over. But Izzy is convinced that John Brown is not his real name and that he is up to no good and proceeds to make him the target of a surreptitious investigation, an investigation that lands her in jail for breaking and entering.

Not your typical mystery story, as there is no dead body and no real crimes committed. Izzy plunges headlong into her investigation of the suspect neighbor with the occasional help and hindrance of her little sister. Other mysteries in Izzy's life require some looking into also: Why is Dad going to the gym and dieting? Why is Mom leaving the house in the wee small hours and vandalizing a motor bike? Why is Brother at home, drunk, not working and where has his wife gone? Why has her loner sister apparently gained friends and even, possibly, a boyfriend? Lots going on in the family and no one is talking. It is up to Izzy (or so she thinks) to figure it all out.
Little sister is not as bratty in this book as she was in the first, which was a relief. She was so bratty in the first book that I didn't like her at all. Also, Izzy's parents seem less intrusive than they did in the first book, which made them more likable too. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I did the first in the series as the characters are less extreme and more human than before. All in all, even with Izzy's obsessive behavior, I liked this story a lot.

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