Review: The Spellmans Strike Again

The Spellmans Strike AgainOver the course of a lifetime, people change, but not as much as you’d think. Nobody really grows up. At least that’s my theory; you can have your own.

Those words were from Isabel “Izzy” Spellman, the main character in Lisa Lutz’s entertaining The Spellmans series. It pretty much sums up what to expect from her and her zany family.

The Spellmans Strike Back is the fourth installment in The Spellmans series, and many have said this is the funniest one yet. I enjoyed reading it, but to me, the second book, Curse of the Spellmans, is funnier. Anyway, this had me chuckling many a times, so I’m not complaining.

This is the most ‘crowded’ book in the series with multiple goings-on that while I was too engrossed to mind, it still felt a bit full. The family’s business hit a slump because of the economy, and with Izzy finally given the reins, she brought three cases in, with two more on the side. There’s Rick Harkey, their competitor suspected of unpleasant activities, millionaire Frank Winslow’s butler’s disappearance, and some case involving going through trash (garbology!) for what turned out to be a movie script. Then there were cases the Spellman sisters took on in hopes of freeing convicted felons – Schmidt and Merriweather (one got out, one was left in the air). Those were just the cases. If you have read the misadventures and shenanigans of this family, the cases were simply the garnish to the main course.

As a character, I am happy for the development in Izzy’s romantic life. She deserves it. The woman is a walking gag show but she’s hardworking and caring. I enjoyed the blackmail of her mother, Olivia, brought by a picture during her prom night, which led to forced dates with lawyers (specifically). In other plot points, there’s the case of the missing doorknobs from the Spellman house, family news (hint: there’s an additional Spellman by book five!), a terrible character loss (though I somehow saw it coming, I mean this is the 4th book!), and a “Finally!” moment (been a fan of the pair since book 1).

I also have to note that I found Rae Spellman most likable in this book. Sure, she’s precocious, street-smart, manipulative, and wise for her age, but I didn’t really warm up to her from the beginning. She did something here and was punished for it, and she showed a little likability. That’s just me. I hope she becomes more bearable in the books to come.

If asked what this series is about, I can always say it’s a funny book about a family who does detective work and solves mysteries in San Francisco. However, I found between the pages something that will describe it more suitably:

If you’re looking for a standard mystery, with a surprise ending and a villain, a punishment, a wrap-up of events, I can’t give it to you. That’s not how the real world works. Most mysteries I’ve encountered remain unsolved. Most questions I asked are left unanswered.

What can I give you is this: a moment in time when questions hung in the air and lives felt whole and life-altering decisions were made. I can give you that. But that’s all.

Overall, I liked this book and I’m looking forward to reading the fifth book in the series.

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