The dysfunctional Spellman family private-investigation firm is back in action with another heavily annotated adventure.
Isabel “Izzy” Spellman has a problem. Through no fault of her own, she keeps getting arrested. Yes, she is arrested for investigating—some would say stalking—her parents’ next-door neighbor, whom she briefly dated. And, yes, she has broken into his house, used a GPS tracker on his car and rifled through his garbage, despite, at one point, a temporary restraining order. But to a Spellman, raised to be a PI, this is normal behavior when suspicion lingers that something is “off.” The fact that the neighbor is neither a client nor suspected of any known crime makes Izzy’s obsession only slightly odder than usual. But Izzy’s younger sister, Rae, is also acting bizarrely, as is Izzy’s older brother, David, who has abandoned his straight-shooter lawyer lifestyle to drink all day. Izzy’s best buddy Petra has disappeared. Izzy’s father has a secret of his own: He certainly couldn’t be going to a gym and eating broccoli voluntarily. In this second, longer Spellman adventure from former screenwriter Lutz (The Spellman Files, 2006), some of the debut’s sparkle is gone: The idiosyncrasies of this mismatched family are now known, including Izzy’s tendency to footnote anything that might approximate a fact. And the central story—Izzy’s fixation on the neighbor—isn’t founded on much. (He claims to be a landscaper and yet shreds a lot of paper.) But the snappy, honest narration by Get Smart–obsessed Izzy keeps things popping, with its mix of trade talk and brutal honesty: “…tonight would be the last time I could investigate (a.k.a. break into) Subject’s residence without the watchful eye of the parental unit.” Most of the side stories, such as one involving Rae’s teacher’s dirty tissues, keep the laughs coming.
The Spellmans return with more personality than plot.