Archive for the ‘Lisa Lutz’ Category

Tanya Pitts Dubois comes home one day to find her husband, Frank, lying at the base of the stairs, quite dead, with a big gash on his head. She decides that if she notifies the police and remains at the house until they arrive, she will be the most likely suspect. For various reasons, she concludes, this would not be a brilliant idea. So, she packs her bags and leaves.

For a book I contemplated not reading, I would have made a grave (no pun intended) error in not reading The Passenger because I couldn’t put it down. I am a big fan of Lisa Lutz and the Spellman series. However, I couldn’t get through Heads You Lose, her ‘joint venture’ with David Hayward. Plus, I’m not typically a fan of humorous mysteries, which I thought this was. I had put a reserve on the book and it arrived, I was between books and said “What the heck.” It was truly a smart move.

I’m not going to write any more about the plot. It will speak for itself as you read. You’ll love Tanya as you travel with her, as you read her emails and learn her history. The Passenger is a truly entertaining read.


Read Full Post »

When Mortimer Angel decides to change careers from IRS Agent to PrivateGumshoe Investigator he envisions himself a modern day Sam Spade spouting smart repartee, meeting gorgeous girls, seeing plenty of action and solving murders. But, aside from the numerous gorgeous girls he’s met, including one mystery girl who breaks into his house, appropriates his bed and leaves him notes, being a P.I. isn’t what he thought it would be.

He seems to have only one talent. In his first two days on the job he’s been able to find the severed heads of two people who had disappeared, Reno, Nevada’s mayor and district attorney. Unfortunately the third severed head he found happened to belong to his P.I. and new boss nephew, Gregory, who had gone searching for the killer and bodies of the first two heads. In order to salvage a P.I. career on the brink of disintegrating, Angel realizes he has to solve the murders. However, his inexperience is a major drawback, so he hires experienced private detective Jeri DiFrazzia, who is herself gorgeous, to help him.

The tone of Angel and DiFrazzia is reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles of the Thin Man series. Angel’s cavalier but determined attitude is offset by DiFrazzia’s all business demeanor making them a likeable and effective team. Readers will find themselves chuckling at Angel’s wry observations, especially about himself. The gorgeous women who come in and out of his life including his ex-wife Dallas, Jeri and the mystery girl are quite the crew. No dumb blonde in this group.

The somewhat implausible ending (maybe I should say plot) does not diminish the reading enjoyment. I’m not a big fan of the ‘humorous’ mystery–not a Carl Hiaasen fan–but I thoroughly enjoyed Gumshoe. By the way, this is not humorous in the Lisa Lutz (the dysfunctional Spellman family series) or Janet Evanovich (the Stephanie Plum with the old grandmother series).

Should Angel and DiFrazzia morph into a series, mystery readers will be well served.

Read Full Post »

I have maintained in the past that sustaining the humor in a humorous mystery is one of the most difficultLastWord things to do, especially when the first volume was laugh-out-loud funny. Unfortunately, Lisa Lutz’s Last Word: A Spellman Novel did not live up to its predecessors. (Not that it was a bad book. It just didn’t live up to the standard set by the first book in the series.) The thing about the Spellmans is their quirkiness and while they still are quirky, something was lost.

As usual in a Spellman novel, the most fun is had when the family interacts, spies on each other, keeps secrets, bribes each other and there is a bunch of that going on. Isabel’s ex-boyfriend, Henry, takes a back seat in this novel, which saddened me. I liked him as a character. Actually, as I think about this, the funniest character is Isabel’s niece Sydney, aka Banana, who is somewhere between 2 and 4 years old, according to the opening pages. If that’s who you have to rely on for laughs, well…..

The ‘mysteries’ are not overwhelmingly exciting. As usual, there are several going on.

If you want a nice, mindless beach read, I’d suggest the Spellman series…no hesitation. Don’t get me wrong. If Lisa Lutz publishes another Spellman book, I’ll be on line to get my copy, but my expectations will be somewhat lower. Based on the ending of the book, I wonder whether this will indeed be the last word. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »