The Last Word: A Spellman Novel by Lisa Lutz

Simon & Schuster
Pub date: July 9, 2013

Meet Isabel Spellman: chief shareholder and newly minted president of Spellman Investigations, a/k/a the boss. Unfortunately for Izzy, though, being in charge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Her parents (who make up 50% of her staff) are not only actively rebelling against her hostile takeover, but also appear to be hiding something major from her and her siblings. Someone is staging a rather successful corporate coup against her biggest client. Her sister Rae may or may not be involved in some sort of secret criminal enterprise. And persons unknown are attempting to frame Izzy for embezzlement.

Izzy’s always been a loner, but even she’s forced to admit that this is one storm she’s incapable of weathering alone. Can the notoriously vindictive Spellman clan let bygones be bygones and band together to help save their foundering family business, or are they finally discontent enough to let Izzy go down with the ship?

At once smart, funny, poignant, and profound, I’m fairly certain The Last Word is the best thing Lisa Lutz has ever written. The plot is clever, the pace is quick, and to a one, her characters are fully fleshed, fabulously entertaining, and larger than life. (Izzy’s tyrannical three-year-old niece is maybe my favorite toddler ever, fictional or otherwise.) Lutz’s dialogue is witty and sharp. The interpersonal relationships she creates between her characters are wonderfully nuanced and ring 100% true. (I especially adore the sweetly antagonistic exchanges between Izzy and her elderly client-slash-benefactor, Edward.) And Lutz’s narrative style is among the most compelling I’ve ever read. Snarky and digressive, yet still surprisingly graceful, Lutz’s storytelling isn’t always linear, but, then, the most enjoyable rides never are.

The Last Word will make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and it’ll make you feel wiser for having read it. It’s the kind of book you should play hooky to read so that you can savor it in solitude while drinking booze and/or eating ice cream in your pajamas. It’s the kind of book you fall in love with on page one and hope will never end, and if you know what’s good for you, you’ll go out and buy yourself a copy right now. I think you’ve earned it – don’t you?

Katrina Niidas Holm