Friday, July 27, 2012

Evil Eva Reviews... Trail Of The Spellmans

EvilEva reviews ...... Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz. 

Dissecting The Cover:

This cover is very simple but still conveys what the story is about. It's another Spellman mystery. There will be sleuthing. There may be a lurker. There could be some sneaking around. A flashlight might come into play. It's very Grown Up Nancy Drew!

Let's Review:

Those zany Spellmans are back with even more mystery-solving and family-dysfunction.
Isabel has more cases than ever (some of which have actually been assigned to her.) So she's keeping busy.
The rest of the Spellmans, however, are displaying serious signs of extreme suspicion.
Her mom has suddenly developed an odd obsession with extracurricular activities like pottery, yoga and learning to speak Russian. Her dad is keeping secrets about the family business. Secrets that could directly impede the progress of one of Izzy's cases. And war has been declared between David and Rae. Not that they'll admit why they're at odds.
Further complicating matters, Isabel's boyfriend, Henry Stone, wants her to meet his mother. He also wants to have "a talk." But Izzy's not really into mother-meeting or talk-having so she throws herself into her work instead. 
Adam Cooper wants Isabel to follow his sister. Margaret Slayter wants her husband tailed. The Blakes want to know what debauchery their daughter, Vivien has gotten into while away at college. And Walter Perkins needs someone to constantly check on his appliances to make sure they're properly turned off and unplugged. 
So just another day of sleuthing, drinking, bickering, snarky-remarking, family-tailing, boyfriend-dodging and conversation-avoiding. Or simply, just another day in the life of Isabel Spellman.

Here's What I Think:

Trail of the Spellmans is our fifth go round with the wild and wacky Spellman clan so by now we pretty much feel like part of the family. And part of the family business. And as an honorary PI, we've got a lot of sleuthing to do.
There are enough mysteries crammed into this book to satisfy all you fellow mystery-lovers out there. Not only do we have Isabel's legitimate cases, we've also got some family secrets to figure out. And some relationship drama to avoid deal with.
Really this whole book is a massive jumble of mysteries. Which is good because it seems like mystery novels have become somewhat scarce these days.
But because Izzy is so busy snooping on her family, it leaves very little time for her to actually socialize with them. And that insane Spellman family dynamic is something that I've always loved about this series. So I really missed that aspect. Especially where Rae is concerned.
Rae has always been one of my favorite characters. She started out as a whip smart, sassy 14 year old gumshoe. But book 5 finds her in college and kind of over the whole investigative business. Which is pretty much a dagger to my heart. I thought if any of the Spellmans made the transition from Harriet M. Welsch kiddo-spy to Jessica Fletcher senior citizen sleuth, it would for sure be Rae. But, alas, it seems as though it was not meant to be. *wails and moans in fangirlish fashion*
Another of my faves that's noticeably absent for most of this book is Henry Stone. Which is a fucking shame because I love Henry and totally want to have his fictitious babies.
But Izzy isn't ready for that kind of commitment and so she spends most of her time trying to avoid him. Which isn't that surprising given that Lisa Lutz isn't really known for her blatant use of swoon. Izzy has always been more of a runner than a romantic, things get serious and Izzy is so outta there. I do wish she would settle down a little bit though. She's got a good guy in Henry and it would be awesome if she could see that. 
I mean, I'm not asking for a marriage proposal or anything, but it would've been nice for Henry to make a few boyfriendly appearances. 
So really my only problem with this book was the lack of our usual suspects.
Because Lisa Lutz has done such a great job over the years of endearing these characters to the reader and making them so lovably flawed that we miss them when they're not there. And while Isabel is an amazing main character, this series is really at its best as an ensemble.
My ONLY problem is that I just can't get enough of these characters!
Other than that non-problem, Trail of the Spellmans is yet another funny, foul-mouthed, mystery-packed extravaganza that left me eagerly anticipating book 6.

Swoony Times:

As I mentioned before, I LOVE Henry Stone. I've loved him since the very first book. You know who he's always reminded me of? Luke Danes from Gilmore Girls. Sure, at first he seems kinda grouchy and very no-nonsense but he's also really sweet and caring and you can't help but fall for him with each turn of the page.
But where is Henry in this book? I'll tell you where he isn't--- anywhere to be found. Well that's not true, actually. He is in the book just not nearly enough.
Things start getting a little too serious for the couple, so, of course, it's time for Izzy to bail. Unfortch, we the reader are forced to bail with her. 
This isn't some new development though. It's pretty much a pattern with Isabel. Girl's immune to the swoon. I'm not though. And as I said before, I'd be more than happy to pop out 2 or 3 gruff but kindhearted lil' Henrys.

Bonus Shizz:

Check the name of this blog, homey, I'm always down for a good mystery! Couple it with seriously sarcastic smartassery and I'm really down.
And Lisa Lutz has got this shizz down to a science.
In Trail of the Spellmans there's no shortage of mystery. And each is as delightfully ridiculous as the next! There's The Case of the Possibly Philandering Husband, The Secret of the Somewhat Wayward Daughter and The Mystery of the Unexpectedly Plugged-In Toaster, just to name a few.

Dysfunctional Families!
Is it just me or are dysfunctional families just so totes fun? I mean, it's right there in the name--- dys-FUN-ctional! And the Spellmans are definitely a dysfunctional family. But that's also what makes them such a fun bunch!
They all have such strong personalities, they're all so individually quirky and that nutty family dynamic is one of the things that makes this series so enjoyably readable.

If You Liked That, Try This:

Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe.
The Heather Wells series by Meg Cabot.  

The Scale Of Judgment Says:

...... 4.
I love a good, snark-filled mystery! Can this become a new book trend, please?


  1. Yes, I agree. This book was fun but the other ones were all about the family and how they relate and this one was about SPOILERS Izzy dumping Henry because she didn't want family and engineering a hostile takeover because she didn't want to listen to her parents and both the plot and the character pushed everyone else to the side. I thought it undercut what gave the earlier books their heart. And in the past Izzy always paid for her headstrong ways but in this book she dealt real blows to the people closest to her and she never showed a drop of concern in the book about how they took it, just what it meant to her. Her narcissism was easier to take when it ultimately led her back to connection with others. This time it was rewarded. Hoping the next one gets back to being about the family.

  2. Totally, totally agree with you. i like these books better when the whole family is more involved.
    And thanks for commenting on my blog, btw! :)