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The Spellman Files

(The Spellmans #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  32,308 ratings  ·  3,712 reviews
Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family' ...more
Paperback, 470 pages
Published January 27th 2009 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Joan - xstitchfan It would depend on the girl, but for most girls I’d wait until age 15 or 16. Why not read the book
yourself to decide.…more
It would depend on the girl, but for most girls I’d wait until age 15 or 16. Why not read the book
yourself to decide.(less)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  32,308 ratings  ·  3,712 reviews

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Dan Schwent
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
The Spellmans are a dysfunctional family of detectives. When Rae, the youngest, goes missing, her sister Izzy drops what she's doing and goes looking for her while delving into the Spellman family's past. Who kidnapped Rae Spellman? And does it have something to do with a cold case Izzy is working on?

The Spellman Files reads like Sara Gran on mood elevators. The writing style reminds me of a more humorous version of the Claire DeWitt books. As for the Spellmans themselves, they remind me of The
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone looking for the literary equivalent of Bringing Up Baby
This book won’t work for some, but head into it in the right frame of mind and it’s a fun ride, a modern screwball comedy crossed with spy caper, Harriet the Spy meets Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead.

Isabel is a private investigator in the family business, Spellman Investigations. It’s been a hard road getting there after a decade of childish rebellion. “Since David [her brother] had cornered the market on perfection, I had to settle for mining the depths of my own imperfection.” Spellman
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: blog
I'm one of those people who will forgive anything of a movie or a novel as long as I enjoy the characters. If I like the characters, if I find them amusing or admirable or realistic, I'll gladly read hundreds of pages in which nothing really happens just for the pleasure of their company. This is one of those novels and, as such, while I enjoyed the hell out of it, I probably won't actively recommend it because I don't want anyone wondering, "I don't get it. What did she think was so special in ...more
Katie B
Oh, that wacky Spellman family! I first read this book almost 5 years ago and I just finished it for the second time. I rarely reread books so that's a testament to how much I love this author and her crazy cast of characters.

Twenty-eight year old Izzy Spellman is a private investigator working for her parents' firm, Spellman Investigations. She has a straight-laced, lawyer brother and a fourteen year old sister named Rae. Spying on people and digging up dirt is what this family excels at and th
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beach read.
Funny read.
I-want-to-be-this-character read.

Lisa Lutz, if you ever read this, please don't take it the wrong way. By beach read I mean that I was completely entertained, laughed out loud a couple of times, and didn't want to move while I read it. Your book sucked me in and kept me there. When I had to put it down, the story and characters stayed with me enough so it was easy to pick back up. Izzy Spellman reminded me of Thursday Next ( The Eyre Affair) and Jane Charlotte ( Bad Monk
THE SPELLMAN FILES (Private Investigator, Izzy Spellman, San Francisco, Cont) – Poor
Lutz, Lisa – 1st book
Simon and Schuster, 2007, US Hardcover – ISBN: 9781415432392
First Sentence: I duck into the parking garage hoping to escape.
*** Izzy Spellman is a private investigator from a family of private investigators. Her parents sent Izzy and her brother David out on their first official surveillance when they were 12- and 14-years old respectively. Izzy eventually decides to quit the family business
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I still haven't forgiven this book for looking so appealing on my own, personal (also, in my bedroom) bookshelf that my daughter, who was about 12 at the time and a precocious reader, snitched it from my shelf and read it. I didn't find out until after she was finished. It's not the worst thing in the world that she could have read at that age, but it has some adult content that, let's just say, I wasn't quite ready for her to be exposed to yet. And yes, it was totally the book's fault and not m ...more
Marty Fried
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, humor
I had mixed feelings about this one. I think it would be better as a TV sitcom perhaps, mainly because there's not that much happening other than character development and humor. I liked the humor, but after getting close to half way, I started to get bored; it seemed to be going nowhere, and even though it was enjoyable, I wondered whether I wanted to finish it. But finish it I did, and I liked the second half better - either because there was more of a story, or I got to know the characters be ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Every once in a great while I stumble across a writer who just gets it, one who possesses The Humor – that elusive knack for expressing razor-sharp wit by fusing language and wordplay with insight into human nature and the ironies surfacing in relational complexity. Lisa Lutz looms large in this category. This opening entry in her series about the Spellman family introduces a spirited line-up of family members whose San Francisco private investigation business facilitates honing inquiry skills o ...more
Oct 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a mystery novel? No.
As a cute and funny chick-lit novel? Yes.

I asked my librarian to help me find a book that was good, but not sad, violent, or about animals (What? I don't like sappy books about animals.) I wanted something mind-numbing to pass the time. Something kind of funny maybe?
She gave me this book and told me, "My mother really loved it!". I really tried to smile at her when she said that. There's a possibility it looked more like a grimace. But I took it anyway, because it's just
Lois Bujold
Aug 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who like contemporary family dramedy
Recommended to Lois by: random internet review

My casual reading didn't used to come with homework...

Anyway, that was fun. If required to succinctly sum up the mode, I'd dub it family dramady. An... alternatively-functional family of P.I.s in contemporary San Francisco combine variously to drive each other around the bend. The main character reminded me of that tune of Sheryl Crow's, which I mentally dubbed "the borderline-personality girlfriend song", the title of which escapes me just now -- might have been "Man Enough to Be My Man".

That p
Well, I can honestly say that I have never read anything quite like this. This family was insane! Hilarious for us, but quite dysfunctional.

Pretty much everyone in the family, except the odd man out, David, works as a private investigator for the family company. Privacy is an alien concept to the Spellmans. To keep information to yourself in this family you'll need to lie, dodge tails, and constantly check for bugs. It's an interesting lifestyle, but it's getting exhausting for Izzy.

Izzy had a
Oct 08, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Annoying people doing stupid things does not automatically equal funny.
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book's first half spent way too much time on the family's background story. At first, the actions of the characters were mildly amusing; but then the author repeated the same humorous actions over and over until they became predictable and boring. This is the first book in a mystery series, but no mystery appears until half-way through the book. After that, the story gets a little interesting. I doubt I will read the next book in this series. A quick read, but nothing special. ...more
Oct 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In this humorous mystery, the Spellmans - mom, dad, and two wacky daughters - run a private detective agency. The main character is the older daughter Izzy Spellman. She and her kooky family run surveillance, bugging, and info collection for their job AND on each other. There's no privacy in THAT family. Pretty fun book.
RJ McGill
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Lisa Lutz’s first novel, “The Spellman Files,” introduces readers to the lovable, albeit highly dysfunctional Spellman family. Be prepared to adore this zany cast of characters, that will butt their way right into your heart and have you laughing along the way. A strong female protagonist with a meddling family may, at first glance, seem a bit blase’, but don’t be fooled, the writing, narrative, and perspective work together like a well-oiled machine generating the ideal reading experience…

Carolyn  Storer
4.5 Stars

This is the first book in the Spellman Series and I absolutely loved it. I found it refreshing and funny and although the Spellman family is bizarre, weird and bordering on completely insane, I simply adored this dysfunctional family.

Isabel, who is the main protagonist and tells the story from a first person narrative, is such a great character. She's strong, feisty and a teeny bit nuts. Brought into the family business, a private detective agency, and the life of a PI at the age of twe
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cdcs-young-adult
Just to make one thing clear--I read this book, I didn't listen to the audio CD, but goodreads didn't have the hardback book (?!). Amazon has done this to me too...I'm confused, and unlike some I'm not a fan of audiobooks, so it irks me. Enough of this tangent though--on to the review.

The Spellman Files could have been fantastic! The setup was smart and right up my alley--family of private investigators who snoop on each other more than on strangers. Like The Thin Man, the dialogue was (intermit
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Between this year’s Canada Reads books and Don Winslow’s The Border, I spent the majority of the first quarter of 2019 reading some really heavy stuff. So when I put down Lindsay Wong’s The Woo Woo last week, I perused my bookshelves for something fun and light. I settled on Lisa Lutz’ The Spellman Files, a book I picked up at a used book sale about a year ago. After checking out some reviews on Goodreads promising an enjoyable read, I sat down to dig in.

After finishing The Spellman Files today,
John Matsui
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Spellmans are a collection of quirky, self-possessed psychopaths in a family that operates a detective agency.
The main character is 28-year-old Izzy [Isabel] who tries to leave the family and the business to find a more normal life. In the process, she uses every underhanded, snooping, spying and lying PI technique to make the break. Her parents and younger sister Rae, 14, tap the same arsenal to track her because they feel she may slip back to her former hard-drinking ways.
Running parallel
Nadine Jones
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Newsflash: boring title conceals highly entertaining book!!! Thanks to Amy for giving it a rave review and piquing my interest :-)


I started out loving this book, but then ... not so much. It begins with lots of really fun character set-up, then there is a whiff of a plot, then there is more set-up, and then ... more set-up and more set-up. Finally there is a plot! The mystery was mildly interesting, but by that point I pretty much hated everyone in the book. There is dysfunctional and then ther
This one was okay. A few parts a heck of a lot better than others but not as good as I was hoping for. This was a recommendation from my library's manager directly to me. I wish it had been better as there are more books that come after this. I don't know if I will read them at this point. ...more
Lisa  (not getting friends updates) Vegan
Sep 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy light mysteries, dysfunctional families & black humor
The Spellmans are one of the most unconventional dysfunctional families ever in a book, and they are hilarious. They are outrageous and over the top and have very peculiar ways of showing love. This delightful book is really, really funny, if you have a weird sense of humor, which I guess I do. It is interesting that what I’d consider disturbing and child abuse in real life can, in a book, cause me to feel affection for all of the characters and send me into frequent peals of laughter.

The friend
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this! Unfortunately after I finished the audiobook I realized it was an abridgment. What stood out to me was how well the characters are introduced. You immediately get a sense of all the key players, and I liked them all. I’ll definitely be continuing this quirky series.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
Boring storyline and writing style, annoying characters, pathetic, totally irritating 'heroine'.
Not recommended.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Janet Evanovich fans
Isabel Spellman, the new Stephanie Plum, is a 28-year-old single woman from a dysfunctional family. That in and of itself is not unusual, but the particular form her family’s dysfunction takes is quite different – the family business is a private detective firm and snooping and blackmailing each other is a way of life for all family members, from the middle-aged parents down to Isabel’s tough-as-nails 14-year-old sister. The family wouldn’t be complete without debauched live-in Uncle Ray, a heal ...more
When you put your head down & plow through a book just so you can say that you finished it. I'm a tad disappointed because this should be right up my alley, I should eat a quirky family of PIs right up with a spoon, shouldn’t I? And indeed, there is a lot here that I did enjoy, mostly whenever Izzy was being an actual investigator, but once the characters are introduced and the novelty wears off, the middle of the book bogs down with Izzy’s baffling pursuit of Daniel, ex-boyfriend # whatever, an ...more
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My perspective on The Spellman Files was a bit different this time, as I reread it after reading all the books as they were released. I enjoyed it at least as much this time, and I was definitely more invested in the characters. I also think I caught nuances that slid past me when all of the characters were new to me.

Isabella "Izzy" Spellman is a twenty-eight year old private investigator who lives at home and works in her family's business. She has never been an easy individual, and now she is
Clarissa Emiria
Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016, audio
I can't decide if I want to give this four or five stars....

I loved the book.. I loved Isabelle's voice and commentary.. And Christina Moore's narration was perfect <3

I am going to re-listen soon/right away I think, maybe? I don't know?

I can't think right now because motorised gardening implements >_<
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
I couldn't finish this one. I gave up at 29%. At that point I'd lol'd a handful of times, but everything else went nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. ...more
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What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Spies/YA/Young Adult/Fiction. [s] 5 44 Oct 18, 2018 08:03AM  
Books on Tap Book...: * June- The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz 1 4 Jun 03, 2016 11:51AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz 1 15 Jan 28, 2015 08:31AM  
Ask Lisa Lutz!: Ask Lisa about The Spellmans 33 327 Oct 23, 2013 03:14AM  
It's Lisa Lutz, not Linda Lutz 4 93 May 15, 2012 05:42PM  
Ask Lisa Lutz!: Ask Lisa any other question! 15 103 Feb 19, 2012 10:46AM  
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Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, How to Start a Fire, Heads you Lose (with David Hayward), and the children's book, How to Negotiate Everything (illustrated by Jaime Temairik). Her latest book, The Passenger, a psychological thriller, will be published March 2016 by Simon and Schuster. Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for ...more

Other books in the series

The Spellmans (6 books)
  • Curse of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #2)
  • Revenge of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #3)
  • The Spellmans Strike Again (The Spellmans, #4)
  • Trail of the Spellmans (The Spellmans, #5)
  • The Last Word (The Spellmans, #6)

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