This originally appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers, and is reprinted here with permission.
After her hostile takeover of the family detective agency in 2012’s Trail of the Spellmans, Izzy Spellman is now the boss in Lisa Lutz’s The Last Word, dealing with all the responsibilities and frustration that come with the position. She’s also working with Edward Slayter (introduced in the last “document”), to uncover who’s trying to force him out of his own company before he’s ready to retire. He may not be able to fight back, however, because he’s trying to keep a secret that has the potential to destroy his professional reputation.
Meanwhile, Izzy’s ex-boyfriend, Henry Stone, has distressing news for her, and Izzy fears her parents’ marriage might be in trouble. She starts questioning whether it was a wise move to take over the agency, or if she even wants to stay in the PI business at all.
Lutz’s Spellman novels contain mysteries, but they’re more character studies of the eccentric clan. Through the six books in the series, the Spellmans have evolved and grown up—well, some of them have. In The Last Word, more than ever, Izzy struggles with the idea of being a “normal” adult, why the things most people do—getting married, having kids, owning a home—seem so hard for her. It’s an affecting conundrum, because Izzy is aware her behavior has cost her dearly. Along with its humor, this novel has its share of melancholy, with a surprising and bittersweet ending that nevertheless feels right. Izzy may find it hard to grow up, but Lutz’s writing is maturing just fine.