If you like stories about crime, spies, sleuths and PI's sprinkled with a dash of whimsy and peppered with witty writing then Lisa Lutz has the secret formula for you in the form of her Spellman series. Her new novel Trail of The Spellmans Document 5 is the latest installment in the series after The Spellman Files, Curse of The Spellmans, Revenge of The Spellmans, and The Spellmans Strike Again. I'm a big fan of crime novels and the first time I picked up one of the Spellman books I was definitely hooked! The Spellman series shares the lives of a family of PI's, from their everyday dysfuntional behavior to their downright ludicrous drama. Lisa Lutz has the type of dry humor that translates so well with the crime genre. See a video of Lisa being interviewed by her future readers for an example of her witty repartee.
Excerpt From Trail Of The Spellmans
I do my job. I watch. I take notes. I snap pictures and record video. I document subjects’ activities through a filter of twenty years of disassociation. I don’t judge. I don’t manipulate the evidence. I simply report my findings to the client. The client can use the information however they see fit. At least that’s the line I feed them. But the truth is always a murkier business.
November 2 2330 hrs
Female subject, 5’5”, 125 lbs, dark brown hair, wearing blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt over a dark green military jacket, exits a San Francisco apartment building at Twenty-sixth and Noe. She walks east down the street, scanning the parked cars. She presses a remote key and looks for a flash of headlights. A BMW winks in the distance. Female subject spins in a circle, checking her perimeter; approaches car; gets inside; and starts the engine. She drives east down to South Van Ness Avenue and makes a left turn, stopping on the corner of Seventeenth and South Van Ness at the establishment of Oscar’s Auto. Subject drives vehicle into covered garage. Unable to establish a visual on subject for fifteen minutes.
Subject and an unknown male (midforties, heavyset, wearing blue mechanic’s jumpsuit with the Oscar’s Auto logo embroidered on the breast pocket) exit the office of establishment. They approach a tow truck with the same logo painted on the side. Subject slips an unidentifiable object into her pocket and jumps into a truck with unknown male. Investigator follows subject vehicle to a liquor store. Unknown male enters the store and leaves three minutes later with a large brown bag (about the size of a six-pack of beer). I have an eye for this sort of thing. The tow truck returns subject to the residence on Twenty-sixth Street where she was previously seen exiting. Subject rings the buzzer. (Could not establish unit number.) Female subject then enters the building and all visual contact is lost.
The preceding events would appear innocent enough to the naked eye, but let me enlighten you as to what the naked eye missed just a few hours earlier that evening: Female Subject met the owner of the BMW in a bar; Female Subject was not of legal drinking age; Female Subject was not the owner of the vehicle taken to Oscar’s repair shop. Finally—and how could you know this?—Oscar’s Auto is a well-known chop shop, doing an arthritic limbo under the radar of the law. Subject, based on my three weeks of surveillance, was a regular menace to society, masquerading as a highachieving coed.
My phone rang just as I was about to end the surveillance and head home. The caller ID said “The Tortoise.” Someone had been tampering with my phone. “Hello,” I said.
“Where is everyone?” “I don’t know, Dad.” For the record, I wasn’t withholding information. I really didn’t know. “I’m tired of always being alone in the house.” “You’re not alone.” “Other than You Know Who.” “Why doesn’t You Know Who have a nickname yet?” I asked. “I think we’re going with ‘You Know Who’ as a nickname.” “Kind of messes with our animal theme, don’t you think?” “Sometimes you got to break protocol.” “True,” I said. I couldn’t have agreed more. “I’m lonely.” “Sorry to hear that, Mr. Tortoise.” “And I hate my nickname. I should be able to come up with my own.” “Did you call for a chat?” “Dinner did not go over very well.” “The roast?” I asked. “Inedible.” “And that’s something coming from you. Did Mom blame me?” “No, she took full responsibility.” “Where is she?” “Origami or pie making, I don’t remember.” “Those are two very different things, Dad.” “Any action tonight?” Silence. “Are you there?” Dad said. I could hear him tapping his finger on the phone, like it was an old transistor radio. “I thought we were no longer sharing information.” “Only on cases we’re working separately. So, any action?” Dad repeated. “Not unless you consider studying or watching TV—or both—action.” “Good. Can you drop by the house on your way back? I need the surveillance camera for tomorrow.” “What’s tomorrow?” “You know better than to ask questions like that.”
The #YMBC will be reading Trail of The Spellmans and chatting with Lisa Lutz on Twitter! This promises to be a very entertaining chat and the date is set for March 28th. Follow tweets by book club host @YMCbookalicious and author @LisaLutz and the hashtag #Spellmans5.
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