When our children were early-elementary age, we loved to read Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones series aloud. Dave and I actually argued over who's turn it was to read to the kids. Junie's voices, antics and attitude just begged to be acted out. Lisa Lutz's Spellman series is Junie B. grown up - or at least grown older.
The Spellman family runs a private investigation agency which spills over into their personal relationships. They have an interrogation room in the basement, a penchant for blackmail, and a growing list of quirky family rules.
The Spellmans Strike Again is the fourth and, supposedly, final installment in the series. Izzy is digging up dirt on her top competitor, while also trying to solve a missing persons case; her mom is using the true story of Prom 1984 to blackmail her into dating lawyers; little sister Rae is campaigning to "Free Schmidt", a wrongly-convicted felon; doorknobs and light fixtures are mysteriously disappearing from the house; and brother David has something to hide. The supporting cast - Boyfriend #12, octogenarian pal Bernie, Detective Henry Stone and others - add to the craziness. The only thing lacking was best-friend and co-conspirator, Petra, from the previous novels. I want to be adopted into this family.
Being the final chapter, Ms. Lutz naturally injected some signs of maturity and normalcy into the Spellman clan, and dealt with some more real-world topics such as illness and economic downturn. Consequently, this volume wasn't as hysterically funny as the first three (yet still funnier than the average bear), and it did bring the story to a satisfying stopping point with enough loose threads to give hope that Izzy will never completely mature.
These books are the ideal "read together" books. What can be better than sharing a book and some belly-laughs with someone you love? Grab your Honey, your BFF, your amateur thespian neighbor, your dog....and READ TOGETHER!