The Spellmans' Satisfying REVENGE

The Spellmans are back in Lisa Lutz‘s Revenge of the Spellmans, the third in her series about the lovably dysfunctional family of private eyes. The story begins with Izzy, the 31-year-old underachieving middle child, attending court-ordered therapy due to her escapades in her last adventure and bartending at her favorite watering hole while trying to figure out if she wants to continue in the family business. She accepts a seemingly innocuous job of surveillance for a friend of a friend but of course the case turns out to be more complicated than she thought. Soon, Izzy’s caught up in the (un)usual shenanigans we’ve come to expect from this entertaining series.

Lutz keeps everyone from spinning into Caricatureland by infusing her quirky characters with real emotions. Izzy’s 84-year-old lawyer Morty wears grungy Coke-bottle glasses and is a menace behind the wheel but he sees clearly how Izzy really feels about her cop friend Henry Stone. Her brother David may ridicule her for her aimlessness in life but will extend a hand—and a cup of coffee—when Izzy needs it most. And Izzy herself is not a dimwit. She’s very competent at her job  and lies to people sometimes because she just can’t bring herself to spoil their happiness.

What I like most about these characters is that they evolve (unlike, cough, Stephanie Plum). Lutz puts several of them through some big life changes in this book, positioning them nicely for future installments. I can’t wait to see what’s ahead, knowing it will be a wild and unpredictable ride.

Nerd Verdict: Revenge is winning



  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Characters that evolve? Sounds refreshing, PCN! After 14 Stephanies, I think I’m ready for some evolution.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 6:20 am

    {Though I imagine it would create some challenges in that respect when you make the decision to keep your characters in ‘the now’, without ageing and so on. Puts a lot of performance pressure on the plot ~ what are your thoughts on that way of writing series, PCN?}

    • Reply
      March 24, 2009 at 10:46 am

      I think characters can evolve without the changes being drastic. Series characters don’t have to age in real time but I’d like them to at least be affected by the things that happen to them in each installment. When authors hit the “reset” button at the beginning of each book as if past events never happened, it frustrates me. I get why they probably do that—if their books continue to be popular, why mess with the formula? But I like to see evolution because it makes the characters more relatable. If my car exploded and I’ve been kidnapped, mugged, been shot at, etc., I know I wouldn’t be the same.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks, PCN ~ other than things feeling same-old in that series, I wasn’t sure what exactly was bothering me and you’ve put your finger on it.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I have heard of the this series, but I haven’t picked it up yet. I hate to say this, but I was afraid it would be another one of those over emotional female characters that make you scream “Just get on with it already and leave out the snarky comments.” I’ll give it a try next time I’m at the bookstore.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Sounds good.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I am always looking for a good read and as long as it isn’t some chick-lit piece of crap, I’m there.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I actually have a couple of friends who rave about the series. Guess I will have to read it now.

  • Reply
    March 24, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Well, I loved BEAT THE REAPER, so I will trust you on this one.

  • Reply
    Lizabeth Ann
    March 25, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Thank you so much, PCN, for the heads-up re Lisa Lutz! I mentioned your review to a friend, who also says I MUST read REVENGE OF THE SPELLMANS sounds like a book I’d really enjoy, so I’ll get to Borders right away, hoping to pick up the series. Thanks, I’m in need of a good read.

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