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Book Club Kits: The Spellman Files

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Meet Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, private investigator. This twenty-eight-year-old may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking, and creative vandalism; she may be addicted to Get Smart reruns and prefer entering homes through windows rather than doors -- but the upshot is she's good at her job as a licensed private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. Invading people's privacy comes naturally to Izzy. In fact, it comes naturally to all the Spellmans. If only they could leave their work at the office. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman; tail a Spellman; dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman.

Part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry, Izzy walks an indistinguishable line between Spellman family member and Spellman employee. Duties include: completing assignments from the bosses, aka Mom and Dad (preferably without scrutiny); appeasing her chronically perfect lawyer brother (often under duress); setting an example for her fourteen-year-old sister, Rae (who's become addicted to "recreational surveillance"); and tracking down her uncle (who randomly disappears on benders dubbed "Lost Weekends"). But when Izzy's parents hire Rae to follow her (for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of Izzy's new boyfriend), Izzy snaps and decides that the only way she will ever be normal is if she gets out of the family business. But there's a hitch: she must take one last job before they'll let her go -- a fifteen-year-old, ice-cold missing person case. She accepts, only to experience a disappearance far closer to home, which becomes the most important case of her life.

The Spellman Files is the first novel in a winning and hilarious new series featuring the Spellman family in all its lovable chaos.

Discussion Questions

  • Izzy's delinquent behavior actually prepared her for her work as a private investigator. "My life to date had ingrained in me a certain natural stealth, had taught me how to test limits, and had disciplined me to know precisely how much I could get away with" (p. 25).

  • Do you retain a youthful bad habit that has actually benefited you as an adult? How might Rae's recreational surveillance benefit her, in ways other than being a PI, as an adult?

  • "There was nothing my mother wouldn't do to protect her children, even if it was morally ambiguous" (p. 61). How did Mrs. Spellman's exposure of Ex-Boyfriend #6's porn addiction ultimately affect Izzy?

  • Lawyer #4 describes Izzy as "a cross between Dirty Harry and Nancy Drew" (p. 90). Is this an accurate description? Are there other sleuths that Izzy is heir to?

  • Besides Daniel's "cocoa legs," Izzy is initially attracted to him because of his assertion that, "some people need to win and some people need to lose." (p. 123) What does this say about her?

  • Are David and Petra being paranoid in hiding their relationship from Izzy? What might she have done had she known they were dating earlier?

  • Uncle Ray tells Izzy that "being enemies with Rae was easier than being friends with her" (p. 204). Could this be said about any other Spellmans?

  • Does wire-tapping constitute a larger betrayal of privacy than simple eavesdropping or tailing?

  • Their mom tells David that, "'Without this job, [Izzy is] Uncle Ray waiting to happen'" (p. 235). Is that an accurate assessment?

  • Was the threat of a temporary restraining order the best way to prevent Izzy from further pursuing the Snow case? What method of discouragement would you recommend?

  • Daniel claims that his romantic relationship with Isabel ended with "the fake drug deal" (p. 309) Do you think they might otherwise have been able to work out their differences? What qualities does a man need to be compatible with Isabel?