Tuesday, February 21, 2012

If You're Not Into SitCom Humor...Don't Bother...

Trail of the Spellmans

By Lisa Lutz

I promise, I didn't know that this book was primarily the humor genre--I don't seem to have a sense of humor like many have, so I don't usually read the genre. I thought the book was about PI's and there was a few cases that were interesting, although all of them involved following people, except one client who had OCD and used the private investigator as a backup to make sure someone was dealing with his compulsions so he wouldn't lose his job. None of the situations take much to figure out--I had all of them resolved after the first introduction of each case...

The book was well written although the majority was about the Spellman family itself and the ongoing drama that apparently revolves around the members. The story is told from the point of view of the daughter, Isabel, who clearly has a handle on how the investigative business should be run, but also clearly, contrary to the back cover's statement, is just as dysfunctional as the rest of those who live there. I must admit that the writer's use of footnoting was, for me, completely frustrating from the reader's standpoint since the footnotes were merely attempts to increase the humor, which it didn't, in my opinion. For me, it just increased reading time and was disruptive.

Let me tell you a little more about the cases covered:

Two parents hired them to follow their daughter who had entered college, to keep track of her activities.
A wife hired them to follow her husband and keep her informed where he was and when he was to return home.
A brother hired them to follow his sister and report back to him.

But the investigator assigned the first case, made up false reports to turn in...get the idea of strange actions. Of course the investigator is the youngest daughter in the family and to punish her for what she did, had her car taken away from her, without anybody explaining why...Funny? You decide...

Isabel did have a basic and healthy attitude about how the job should be done, although the ending action was, in my opinion, quite unethical and, quite naturally backfired on her.

Sorry, I didn't even smile once. Some of the scenes were sad, such as with the client who had OCD and while Isabel did explain everything to him, they did do as much as could be expected as private investigators. I guess I have to admit that most of it was boring for me, since I don't find making fun of dysfunctional family members something that should be done. On the other hand, knowing that many people do enjoy sitcom type of humor, the book itself was fast-paced, except for the footnotes, and certainly should be considered by those who routinely enjoy the humor genre...

You decide...

Book Received Via
Amazon Vine



  1. Interesting. Sometimes footnotes work. Sometimes not. You've got me wondering what makes the difference now.

  2. Sheila, with my academic background, I've had more experience in using footnotes than many--perhaps that is why this bothered me so much. Footnotes are normally used to add an additional reference or to document further what has been said. Indeed, in academic papers on which I worked as well, it is mandated and you must learn how to use ibid. op cit., etc. The footnotes here were often hard to see in the narrative, so many times, I stopped to track them down, only to be irritated for its use; sample footnotes:

    "I think she's played like twice in her lifetime."

    "No, I'm not going to tell you which San Francisco bars have a bad eye for fake IDs."

    The material could just as easily been inserted within the narrative and not lost the potential impact. I can only assume, it was meant to be "cute" because there was never any reason to have footnoted the material.

    So, please, don't assume I'm against footnoting. Indeed because I've used them all of my professional life, the choice to use them superfluously really "bugged" me...