Izzy Spellman (The Spellman Files)

Created by Lisa Lutz

It’s a family affair…

Despite her habit of being arrested, former bad girl and wild child ISABEL “IZZY” SPELLMAN may just be the sane one in her family.

Which may not be saying much.

She’s the obstensible bad girl heroine (and narrator) of this series that details the hijinks of an extremely dysfunctional family of private eyes. Izzy’s father Albert started the San Francisco-based Spellman Investigations with his wife Olivia and his brother Ray when he retired from the police force, and he’s enlisted his wife and two daughters, 30-year-old Izzy and 15-year-old Rae to fill out the ranks. The whole family chips in, except for older brother David, a successful attorney who’d rather have little to do with them (although his upscale law firm frequently employs the family)..

And you sorta can see his point. Even if he is a tight ass. The Spellman clan is definitely peculiar, with more issues than a magazine rack. They all have their own little strenuously guarded secrets and there doesn’t seem to be a door in the house (they all live under one roof, including Uncle Ray) without at least two or three locks on it, because they’re all also as inquisitive as hell, merrily prying (usually with San Francisco and unintended consequences) into each others’ affairs. And really, what’s a little blackmail between mother and daughter anyway?

Rae is a Cheetos-chomping teen with a major jones for “recreational surveillance” and her middle-aged pal, deadpan SFPD inspector Henry Stone, the parents (and Ray) are prone to mysterious “disappearances,” when they’re not being over-protective, and the Get Smart-obsessed Izzy’s list of ex-boyfriends (and arrests) is staggering. And we won’t even get into David’s problems (“the perfect son,” according to Izzy).

Adding to the fun, Izzy’s wise-cracking narration is intersperesed with lists, footnotes, journal entries and asides that owe at least as much to Ken Bruen as they do to Erma Bombeck.

But, through all the dysfunction and bickerings, misdirection and misunderstandings, not to mention the outright over-the-top zaniness, there’s a sense of real warmth and affection here, and a healthy dose of shrewd wit. Fans of Janet Evanovixh’s Stephanie Plum or Michael Z. Lewin’s Lunghi Detective Agency series will eat this one up.


  • “Tired of being grilled by Evanovich junkies about when the next “Stephanie” was coming out, I began recommending the Spellman books to impatient customers. Then I started getting grilled about when the next Izzy was coming out.”
    — Kevin Burton Smith


  • “… Raymond Chandler meets Arrested Development. Zany, witty and full of dark surprises, (The Last Word) is pure fun-and Izzy Spellman, PI, tops the list of ‘Fictional Characters I’d Like to Meet for a Bourbon.'”
    — Gillian Flynn



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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