Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

I can’t remember when I so liked a main character as much as I like Bernadette Fox. A promising Los Angeles based architect twenty years ago, she is now a recluse living in a run down former girls’ school in Seattle, spouting forth on the excessive number of 5-way intersections, poor Idahoan drivers, the way too polite Canadians, and the super-sophisticated ‘gnats’  who are the parents of her daughter Bee’s schoolmates. The one thing you know for sure is that she loves her fifteen year old daughter.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple is Bee’s recounting of the events leading up to and after her mother’s mysterious disappearance. If a book can have slapstick comedy, Where’d You Go, Bernadette has it in spades. Rather than try and describe the antics, I suggest you read the book. It is packed with superb ‘gnats’ like neighbor Audrey and Soo-Lin Lee-Segal. It is packed with Bernadette’s long winded but entertaining rambling e-mails (don’t forget, she’s a recluse) and her virtual assistant is something else (literally).

I’ve stated before that I think humor is the hardest literature to write and Maria Semple has done a fine job with it. I highly recommend Where’d You Go, Bernadette for a fast, fun read.

By the way, I think teens would like this book as well. Fun for the whole family.

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Let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of humorous mysteries. I’m not a Carl Hiaasen reader. I stopped Janet Evanovich after book four. However, I have great respect for authors who can write humorous mysteries because I think it’s one of the hardest genres to be consistently good at.

So, when I initially read the Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz I was surprised how ‘laugh out loud’ funny it was. I continued laughing through the antics of the Spellmans in books two through four. I whole-heartedly recommend reading them.

Then something happened and Lutz co-wrote Heads You Lose with her ex-boyfriend, still friend David Hayward. It was like she took an anti-comedy pill. I struggled through 50 pages and had to put it down.

With Trail of the Spellmans (Document #5) Lutz is climbing out of the abyss and starting to get her groove back. As with most of her Spellman books, it’s a mish mosh.  There is the usual intra-family subterfuge. In addition, they are hired by three related people to follow other members within this triumvirate, for reasons not readily apparent. And then there is Walter, who leaves his house afraid he left the toaster plugged in or the water running. Hey, in the private eye business, you take what you can get.

Lutz has also introduced a likeable new employee, Demetrius, aka D, an ex-con who served 15 years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. And there is the always dependable Henry, with whom Isabel has moved in. Lutz’s characteristic footnotes and appendices are present, although not in such quantities as in prior books. As always, Lutz lets you know that more Spellman mania could very well be down the pike.

While not her greatest Spellman book, Trail of the Spellmans certainly is required reading for Spellman fans. It’s a quick, enjoyable read, minus the laugh-out-loud component (I did chuckle a few times though). So, if you haven’t read a Lisa Lutz book, start with the Spellman Files and work your way through this short series. If you have read one of the books, just keep going through them in order. You’ll be laughing til tears come out of your eyes.

P.S. I was pleased to see that Ms. Lutz, on her last page. supported independend bookstores and suggested strongly that we frequent them. For that alone, this book is worth reading!

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