Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Pair of Spellmans - on Audio

I don't do this very often, but in the interest of making sure they both are reviewed in a timely manner (the back-up of reviews right now is embarrassing), I'm going to do a joint review in this post. I recently listened to THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN and TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS back to back, what a treat. Here are my reviews:

THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN

First lines: "Why???? we all asked when my father broke the news." (Note: this is the first line from Part 1; I skipped over the Prologue)

The fourth document of the Spellman files finds Isabel "Izzy" Spellman juggling a few cases for the family PI business. On her own, she's trying to find the dirt on Rick Harkey, an ex-cop and the Spellman's main competition.

Additionally, she's been tasked with tracking down a script that was supposedly co-written by a couple who subsequently broke up. The young man wants to make sure his ex-girlfriend isn't trying to sell the script on her own and leave him high and dry. This case involves much garbology.

Izzy is also looking into a missing person's case. For this job, she recruits her friend Len to go "undercover" and act as a butler. Len, an unemployed actor, decides to employ a bit of method acting that doesn't sit well with his partner, Christopher.

Meanwhile, Isabel's younger sister Rae is doing an internship with Maggie, a lawyer who is dating their older brother David. Are you keeping up with this? I hope so, because Rae becomes obsessed with her internship tasks. Maggie is deciding on a pro bono case to accept and Rae is helping her comb through files. When they decide on a case, Rae goes all out and suddenly everyone is wearing "Free Schmidt" t-shirts.

And all of this is taking place while in the Spellman house: Isabel is being blackmailed by her mother who doesn't want her to date the Irish bartender, fixtures in the house are disappearing (door knobs, light fixtures, etc.), and David is seeing a strange woman in the middle of the day.

If that seems like a lot for one book, I can assure you I had no trouble keeping up with anything through Christina Moore's narration for Recorded Books. She handled various dialects seamlessly and the footnotes--for those unfamiliar with the Spellman Files, there are footnotes--are included in a fashion that provides their content but is not disruptive to the flow of the story.

Lisa Lutz infuses her characters with life. They are hilarious without being insultingly stupid. They are also compassionate and complex. There are a lot of events that take place, but there are also a lot of layers. Moore is attuned to those aspects of the book, and the distinct characteristics of each player in this story comes through loud and clear.

THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN made a 6+ hour long drive fly by and I didn't even mind Chicago traffic because I spent most of the time laughing. But be careful because Lutz may provoke you to cry as well.


TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS

First line: "For reasons that will forever remain a mystery, my sister scheduled the client meeting at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library--specifically, the government section, which is low traffic, offering privacy for a new client intake." (Again, I'm skipping over the very beginning and starting at Part 1)

Document Five advances a bit from the end of Document Four. Rae is a college student, David and Maggie are parents, and Demetrius "D"--a man Isabel helped free from death row--is working for Spellman Investigations.

Spellman Investigations is hopping with business. Walter Perkins is a math professor with a bit of an OCD problem. He hires the firm to check in on his apartment, whenever he thinks he may have left something turned on, plugged in or unlocked.

Then a slew of distrustful family members hire the Spellmans: first there is the case of the college student. Her parents hire the firm to follow the young woman to make sure she isn't getting into trouble. Then there's Adam Cooper who has hired the firm to follow his sister. And finally there's Margaret Slayter who has hired the firm to follow her husband. It's a trio of suspecting family members.

And speaking of family, Grammy Spellman moves into the Spellman household, provoking Isabel's mother Olivia to take up a plethora of "hobbies" that get her out of the house. And Henry, Isabel's significant other, gets an extended visit from his mother, Gerty. Needless to say, both new family members stir up their fair share of trouble. Meanwhile under suspicious circumstances, David evicts Rae who had been living with him and Maggie. Isabel can't figure out why, but she's determined to solve that case as well.

Lisa Lutz hasn't lost a thing with the Spellmans. Each book is better than the one before. THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN was a hard book to top, but TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS may have done just that.

As with all of the Spellman books, Lutz creates a wide array of colorful characters, mocking stereotypes and peeling back layers. Demetrius is one of the best characters I've experienced this year. His addition to the series is brilliant.

Lutz has an uncanny knack with dialogue. Regardless of the character she's depicting, the dialogue is spot on and flows naturally and almost always hysterically. Again Christina Moore narrates the unabridged audiobook, and her appreciation of Lutz's dialogue is evident in her delivery.  Moore obviously understands each character's unique persona and switches from one to the other with what sounds like effortlessness.

Another one of Lutz's strengths is her imagery, which is very noticeable in an audiobook, since there aren't even words to visualize as the story moves along. From the M&M tree (watered by kool-aid) to the nursery school Columbo to bananas, Lutz will have you looking at everything in a brand new light.

As I mentioned with THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN, this isn't a book that's insultingly stupid. The humor is smart and rich. The plot is layered with meaning and emotion. The characters exude complexity. I keep hoping they'll move in next door to me. The Spellmans remind readers that dysfunctional IS normal, and the more we can laugh at ourselves, the healthier we all will be.

The one drawback to the audio in this case is that you can't fully experience the fully-illustrated (albeit black and white) children's book that appears in the TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS. 


THE SPELLMANS STRIKE AGAIN is available in trade paperback (ISBN: 9781416593416) from Simon and Schuster. TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781451608120), also from Simon and Schuster. The unabridged audio of both books can be downloaded from Audible, iTunes or Simon & Schuster Audio.

1 comments:

picky December 4, 2012 at 9:57 AM  

I devoured this series back in the spring. It was so quirky and fun but with such heart as well. The odd thing was I had picked the Lutz books up and put them down again many times before finally checking them out from the library. Don't know what took me so long.

I can't wait for another book in this series!

Labels

2011 2012 2013 Ace Atkins Adrian McKinty Agnete Friis Alafair Burke Alan Bradley Alan Glynn Alan Orloff Alex Berenson Alex Dryden Alexandra Sokoloff Andrew Grant Andrew Gross Anne Zouroudi Annie Barrows Ariana Franklin Arne Dahl Attica Locke audiobook jukebox Audiobooks author events Author Q/A Barry Eisler Bernard Cornwell Beth Ann Fennelly Bill Cameron Bill Crider Bill Loehfelm Bill Pronzini blog tour Book Events Book News Brad Meltzer Brad Parks Brent Ghelfi Brett Battles Brian Azzarello Brian Freeman Brian McGilloway Bryan Gruley C. J. Box C.J. West Camilla Läckberg Cara Black Carl Hiaasen Carla Buckley Carlos Ruiz Zafon Carter Wilson Catriona McPherson Charles Cumming Charlie Huston Charlie Newton Chevy Stevens Chris Grabenstein Chris Holm Chris Kluwe Christa Faust Christopher Reich Christopher Rice Chuck Greaves CJ Lyons Claude Berube Colin Cotterill Cozy Mystery Craig Johnson Craig McDonald CRCRC crime caper Crime Fiction Crime Writers Caught Recommending Crime CWCRC D.A. Mishani Dana Cameron Daniel Palmer Daniel Silva DATW Dave Barry David Baldacci David Corbett David Ellis David Handler David Hayward David Morrell David Rosenfelt Deborah Coonts Deborah Crombie Declan Burke Denise Hamilton Denise Mina Dennis Lehane Detective Fiction Diane Stuckart Don Bruns Don Winslow Donald E Westlake Donato Carrisi Douglas Corleone Duane Swierczynski dystopian Earl Emerson ebook Ed Lynskey Edoardo Ballerini Elizabeth Hand Elizabeth Haynes Emma Donoghue Eric Beetner F. Paul Wilson FFB Five on Friday Focus Features Forensic Science Foul Play Books Francine Mathews Gabriella Herkert Gar Anthony Haywood Gayle Lynds General Fiction George Guidall George Pelecanos Gillian Flynn Graham Brown Gregg Hurwitz Hallie Ephron Hank Phillippi Ryan Harlan Coben Harley Jane Kozak Harper Lee Herman Koch Heroes and Villains Hilary Davidson Historical Fiction Hugh Laurie Ian Rankin Inger Frimansson Ingrid Thoft international thriller J.J. Myers J.T. Ellison James Barney James Conway James Crumley James DuPont James Fredericks James Grippando James Lee Burke James LePore James O. Born Jamie Freveletti Jan Burke Jane Cleland Janet Evanovich January LaVoy Jassy Mackenzie Jed Rubenfeld Jeff Abbott Jeff Woodman Jeffery Deaver Jeffrey Cohen Jeffrey Siger Jennifer McMahon JIAB2011 JIAM2013 Jill Thompson Jo Nesbø Joelle Charbonneau John Connolly John Grisham John Hart John Lescroart John Sandford John Shannon John Verdon Johnny Shaw Jon Land Jonathan Hayes Jonathan Kellerman Jonathan Schuppe Joseph Finder Joseph Wallace Joseph Wambaugh Josh Bazell Josh Corin Joy Castro Julia Heaberlin Julia Pomeroy Julia Spencer-Fleming Julie Hyzy Juliet Blackwell Karen Fossum Karen Olson Karin Slaughter Katherine Kellgren Keith Thomson Kelli Stanley Kelly Braffet Ken Bruen Ken Isaacson Kevin Guilfoile Kimberly McCreight Lachlan Smith Laura Lippman Laurie R King Lawrence Block Lee Child Left Coast Crime Legal Thriller Lene Kaaberbøl Lenny Kleinfeld Les Roberts Liad Shoham Libby Hellmann Linda Castillo Linda Fairstein Linwood Barclay Lisa Ballantyne Lisa Black Lisa Brackmann Lisa Gardner Lisa Lutz Lisa Unger Literary Mystery Lori Roy Lou Berney Louis Bayard Louise Erdrich Louise Penny Louise Ure MacLeod Andrews Marcia Clark Marcus Sakey Mark Billingham Mark Gimenez Mark Hammer Mark Pryor Mark Sullivan Markus Zusak Martin Limon Martyn Waites Mary Higgins Clark Matt Coyle Matthew Dicks Matthew Pearl Matthew Quirk Medical Thriller Meg Gardiner Megan Abbott Memoirs Meredith Cole MfM 2011 Michael Chabon Michael Connelly Michael Harvey Michael Koryta Michael Lister Michael Stanley Michael Van Rooy Michael Wiley Michelle Gagnon Middle Grade Mike Lawson military thriller Murder and Mayhem in Muskego Narrator Interviews Nevada Barr Nonfiction novella NPM Oliver Harris Owen Laukkanen p.i. fiction paranormal Paranormal Thriller Pat Conroy Paul Levine Pete Larkin Peter Berkrot Peter Robinson PI Fiction poetry Police Procedural political thriller Psychological Thriller R.J. Ellory Ralph Cosham Raymond Chandler Rebecca Cantrell Reed Farrel Coleman Reg E. Cathey Review review copy Richard Lange Ridley Pearson Robert B. Parker Robert Crais Robert Dugoni Robert Fate Robert Greer Robert Gregory Browne Robert Pobi Robin Burcell Rochelle Staab romantic suspense Rosemary Harris Ross Macdonald Rupinder Gill Ruth Rendell Ryan David Jahn S. J. Watson S.J. Rozan Sandra Ruttan Sara Gruen Sara Henry Sara Paretsky Sarah Weinman Sasha Abramsky Sci-Fi scientific thriller Scott Turow Sean Black Sean Chercover Sean Doolittle Shane Gericke Shelf Awareness review Short Stories Simon Lewis Simon Prebble Simon Vance Simon Wood Six-word Memoirs Sophie Hannah Sophie Littlefield Spencer Quinn spy thriller Stefanie Pintoff Stephen Cannell Stephen Coonts Stephen Jay Schwartz Stephen King Stephen White Steve Forman Steve Hamilton Steve Hockensmith Steve Mosby Steve Ulfelder Steven Forman Stieg Larsson Stuart Macbride Sue Ann Jaffarian Sue Grafton Susan Arnout Smith Suspense/Mystery T. Jefferson Parker Tania Carver Tasha Alexander Tess Gerritsen theme week Theresa Schwegel Thomas Holland Thomas Kaufman Thomas Young Thriller Tim Dorsey Tim Maleeny Timothy Hallinan tlc book tours Todd Ritter Tom Franklin Tom Piccirilli Tom Schreck Toni McGee Causey Tony Hays Tony Hillerman Trevanian Truman Capote Val McDermid Victor Gischler Walter Mosley Warren Ellis Wayne Arthurson Will Lavender William Kent Krueger Xe Sands xuni author Yasmina Khadra Young Adult Young Readers Yrsa Sigurdardóttir Zoë Sharp

Great Indie Bookstores

xuni

xuni
An amazing collection of authors!

TLC Book Tours

Traffic Map

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Google+ Followers

Our Blogger Templates Web Design


  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP