Revenge of the Spellmans
I’m Kim Alexander and this is Fiction Nation, smart reviews for modern readers on Sirius XM Book Radio. The book is Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz.
Who was your favorite 70’s detective? I watched them all, from Mannix to Barretta to all the NBC Mystery movies, mostly because my grandma was a mystery addict and she controlled the TV. (Not the remote, you whippersnappers you actually had to get up and change the channel. Of course back when dinosaurs roamed the earth there were only 3 plus PBS of course, and the occasional glimpse of life on another planet the UHF band might ]or might not^ offer. Getting off the couch, though. Imagine such a world.)
My favorite was McMillan and Wife because they seemed so classy and had a cool house, and I wanted long straight hair like Susan St. James. But the best, quality wise, was probably The Rockford Files. From the sun-hazed cinematography to the laid back perfection of Jim Garner’s performance, it was a pleasure to watch. Rockford wasn’t tough, he wasn’t a rogue killer or a lone wolf he was a guy doing a job with the help of his friends and his dad. (And of course snappy, well-written dialogue.) And he lived in a crappy trailer on the beach! If I couldn’t have the Macmillan’s place, I could do worse than beachfront. (Even then I was all about the real estate.)
Something about Revenge of the Spellmans gave me a Rockford vibe. Not so much the California cool of it all, although Lutz’s dialogue is certainly chilled. Maybe more the intricate, loving-yet-exasperating exchanges between family members that were honestly, hilariously awkward. I should mention this is the third Spellman adventure, and despite their familial occupation being private investigators, they turn their surveillance equipment on each other more often than anyone who might actually be a paying client. The clients are definitely an afterthought in the land of Spellman.
The heroine, older daughter and partially reformed wild girl Izzy, is a tough sell-defensive and secretive. Her uphill struggle to avoid the scrutiny of her private-eye parents, figure out her brother’s suddenly odd behavior, and against all odds get some sleep are punctuated by transcripts of her court-ordered therapy sessions. I got some good pointers on making it through an hour without revealing anything, should I ever be in Izzy’s position. And there is a liberal use of footnotes, of which I heartily approve. Lisa tells me there will be a fourth Spellman book in the early part of next year, and I am pulling for Izzy to have a human interaction with the hot Irish bartender. I feel like the girl could use a break.