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New detective story proves good reading is no mystery

Shelf Life: Rachael Mason

Sometimes finding a good book to read is no mystery. When "The Spellman Files" by Lisa Lutz (Simon and Schuster, $25) crossed my path recently, I was somewhat interested in the story because it was about a female private eye.

When I read reviews that said "The Spellman Files" was well-suited for fans of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, however, I immediately bumped the book up to must-read status. Stephanie Plum, a New Jersey bounty hunter, is the main character in books like "Hot Six" (St. Martin's Paperbacks, $7.99), "To the Nines" (St. Martin's Paperbacks) and "Eleven on Top" (St. Martin's Paperbacks, $7.99), which are among my favorite mysteries.

"The Spellman Files" follows Izzy Spellman, a 28-year-old woman who lives with her mom and dad in San Franscico. Starting with her rebellious childhood, Izzy describes what it's like to be part of a family of private investigators. They live in a strange world of invading people's privacy with background checks and surveillance.

When Izzy's little sister Rae, 14, becomes obsessed with the family business, things get even weirder in the Spellman household. As the book opens, Izzy is being interviewed by a detective who is trying to find Rae, who recently disappeared. The book's structure, which alternates between Izzy's interviews with the detective and her tales about the past, made the story even more interesting.

My favorite element of the book was Izzy's list of ex-boyfriends. She sums each of her past relationships up in six lines of biographical information, ranging from name and age to occupation and their last words. The last words, which include quotes like "You ran a credit check on my brother?" and "Dude, my mom doesn't want me to see you anymore," are particularly funny.

I didn't think Izzy was that much like Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, though both characters have strong ties to their families and get involved in plenty of odd situations. Still, I really liked "The Spellman Files." While it seems like the book covered most of Izzy's life, I still want to see more of this character. I hope she gets a sequel - or her own series.

If there's a book you think I really ought to read, please e-mail rachael.mason@gwinnettdailypost.com.