Working at Swartz Campbell automatically means a Spellman book. I mean, I read the first one over Christmas my freshman year – but I had no idea there was a sequel until I was on a lunch break at SC sophomore year… and the rest, as they say, is history. Originally I’d heard this was going to be the last in the series – and then Lisa Lutz gave an interview where she said that was all a lie and she has no idea how that got started. Thank goodness – I hope the Spellmans continue to get up to mischief for years to come.
The style of the novels is the same – first-person narration from that incorrigible Izzy Spellman, complete with witty footnotes. The footnotes are one of my favorite bits – I love footnotes, personally, and they’re used to the right extent in this series. They’re, at most, two or three sentences and always witty or snappy. Then there’s the appendices – dossiers on the entire clan, usually some other fun things. I missed the complete Ex-Boyfriend rundown, though I suppose I could just go to the previous novels and get it out of there.
I don’t entirely remember each previous book – I mean, I do, but the way that Lutz provides a recap is just right. There’s just enough refresher for you to say “oh yeah, right, this and this and that happened. moving on.” I hate it when series don’t give you any recap even though you’ve been away for a year or more. But I digress.
This book felt more… well, mature than the previous ones. Rae is a senior in high school, Izzy is slowly becoming respectable… There was just a real sense of progress about this book. Everyone – the parents included – grows up in some way and it was really fun to watch. The “other” plots, the detective ones, were left a little wanting this go-around, but I didn’t mind because of the personal narratives. The stuff with Harkey was almost unnecessary, actually – it just felt wildly underdeveloped. There was also some comment about that Jeremy(?) kid being Izzy’s nemesis… setup for the future, perhaps? Because it certainly didn’t go anywhere in this novel.
I don’t want to give too much away – a lot (a whole friggin’ lot) happens in this book and I can’t recommend this series highly enough, so I won’t talk about too much more. Needless to say, I loved it. I loved my time with the Spellmans and even as I move away from the law firm idea and all that… well, I can’t wait til next summer’s Spellman book.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5. That five star tier is reserved for the cream of the crop, obviously – but this is as close as it gets without being a masterpiece. And you know what, Izzy wouldn’t want to be a masterpiece. There’s something just a little rough about these books and that’s a lovely thing. You can be great without being 5-star great – and that’s the Spellman family to a T. Kind of like mine (and maybe that’s why I love it so much).