The investigative powers of the Spellman family remain undimmed in the third installment of Lutz’s series (Curse of the Spellmans, 2008, etc.).
This madcap romp opens with series protagonist Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, the single, snarky middle Spellman child, in court-ordered therapy, where she spends her time avoiding personal questions. Despite her parents’ desperate attempts to win her back, Izzy has sworn off investigating—but she’s bored. Snooping and prying is a dominant family trait, and before long Izzy is lured away from her bartending job by a seemingly easy case of a possibly straying wife. But when her older brother, the straight-living David, goes missing, her instincts really kick in. The book, written in the form of a case file, is filled with humorous notes (“tends to wear sneakers so she can always make a run for it,” reads one), and the cast of wacky yet lovable friends and family members keep things interesting. Izzy’s 84-year-old best friend Morty, for example, may have to face a move to Florida—or lose his wife—while Rae, the youngest Spellman, who seems to have cheated on her PSATs, continues in her unabashed campaign to reunite Izzy with one-time beau Henry. Even with the many digressions, the pacing remains swift and the tone wry.
Another fast, funny winner from Lutz, who has recovered well from her slight sophomore slump.