When an author is as prolific as Robert B. Parker, some books are going to be better than others. Bad Business, the 31st book in his Spenser series, is better than many of his later efforts.
Marlene Rowley hires Spenser to tail her husband, who she suspects of having an affair. Husband, Trent, is a big executive at an energy company called Kinergy (think Enron). It quickly becomes apparent that Spenser isn't the only PI following people around, and when Trent ends up murdered (in his Kinergy office no less), Marlene then engages Spenser to find the killer. Marlene is totally obnoxious and self-centered, and is not an easy person to work for. Spenser encountered lots of twists and turns, and not only is there the business angle, but there are also sex seminars, wife-swapping, an escort service, missing PI's, another murder and a host of other possible motives.
But what makes Parker so much fun to read is his witty, snappy, first-rate dialogue. Spenser interviewing possible suspects is a hoot. The conversation between Spenser and Hawk is even better. So even though this book could have been a bit longer, it was definitely worth reading. Too bad they stopped filming the Spenser television series, as Bad Business would have made one dandy episode.
AMAZON.COM READER'S REVIEW
Spenser #31 finds the veteran Boston PI tackling corporate crime in a routine yet absorbing outing. As usual, Spenser enters the case at an angle, this time because he's hired by one Marlene Rowley to prove that her husband Trent, CFO of energy firm Kinergy, is cheating on her. Before long the PI learns that marital cheating is all the rage among Kinergy's players, with the hanky-panky orchestrated by radio personality Darrin O'Mara, who runs popular sex seminars on the side. Maybe all that cheating explains why Spenser keeps running into other PIs hired by Kinergy folk, but it doesn't point to why Trent is found shot dead at Kinergy headquarters. Spenser links Kinergy's slick founder/CEO to the sex ring and blackmails him to gain access to Kinergy's records, unveiling a pattern of accounting deceptions that reveal a company about to go under. There's less violence than usual in this Spenser novel but more detecting, which may explain why there's little of the PI's tough sidekick Hawk but much of his psychologist girlfriend Susan, which may not please the many Spenser fans who grew tired years ago of the love banter between the soul mates. The novel ends with suspects crowded into a room to be questioned by Spenser, a classic yet tired climax that is emblematic of the tale: Parker is treading water here, albeit with some flair and a good deal of humor. One suspects that his heart belongs not to this story but to his other book due out this year, in May, the highly anticipated Jackie Robinson novel Double Play. (Mar. 8) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This is a great series and Spenser and his cohorts are part of a well developed series of novels. There is great detail about each character (even the dog) and they become even more meaningful as one continues to read other novels in the series. This detail extends to the location of the novel, usually in Boston or proximity, which also provides continuity to the reader. Great literature, perhaps not, but I can't wait to pick up another novel, that I haven't read, in the series.