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Bad Business (Spenser) Mass Market Paperback – March 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Parker, declared a Grand Master in 2002 by the Mystery Writers of America, delivers another combination of wry satire and sly action in his thirty-first mystery starring Spenser, the Boston private eye. This time he employs to devastating effect one of his signature devices--an observation on how someone dresses or walks into a room, or a few lines of dialogue between the victim and his hero--to fillet the greed and arrogance of corporate types. At novel's outset, Parker indulges in Keystone Kops comedy played out by private eyes. A distraught wife hires him to tail her husband. Surveillance turns complex and comic when Spenser finds that the husband is having his wife watched; an outside party is having both husband and wife watched; and Spenser himself is being tailed. Spenser is soon being watched by the Boston PD, since he is sitting in the lobby when the husband he's following is shot to death in his office. The action takes a more serious turn here, as Spenser is hired by the energy-selling corporation's CEO to investigate the murder. Of course, Spenser uncovers big-time corruption. Longtime love and psychologist Susan Silverman figures in as a commentator on the action. Spenser sidekick Hawk seems more like a vestigial remnant from other books than a realistic character here. Spenser swaggers a bit too much, and the dialogue can get one-two punch formulaic, but even so, Parker still runs at the front of the private-eye pack. Connie Fletcher
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Spenser (Book 31)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425199576
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425199572
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) has long been acknowledged as the dean of American crime fiction. His novel featuring the wise-cracking, street-smart Boston private-eye Spenser earned him a devoted following and reams of critical acclaim, typified by R.W.B. Lewis' comment, "We are witnessing one of the great series in the history of the American detective story" (The New York Times Book Review). In June and October of 2005, Parker had national bestsellers with APPALOOSA and SCHOOL DAYS, and continued his winning streak in February of 2006 with his latest Jesse Stone novel, SEA CHANGE.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Parker attended Colby College in Maine, served with the Army in Korea, and then completed a Ph.D. in English at Boston University. He married his wife Joan in 1956; they raised two sons, David and Daniel. Together the Parkers founded Pearl Productions, a Boston-based independent film company named after their short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in many of Parker's novels.

Parker began writing his Spenser novels in 1971 while teaching at Boston's Northeastern University. Little did he suspect then that his witty, literate prose and psychological insights would make him keeper-of-the-flame of America's rich tradition of detective fiction. Parker's fictional Spenser inspired the ABC-TV series Spenser: For Hire. In February 2005, CBS-TV broadcast its highly-rated adaptation of the Jesse Stone novel Stone Cold, which featured Tom Selleck in the lead role as Parker's small-town police chief. The second CBS movie, Night Passage, also scored high ratings, and the third, Death in Paradise, aired on April 30, 2006.

Parker was named Grand Master of the 2002 Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an honor shared with earlier masters such as Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen.

Parker died on January 19, 2010, at the age of 77.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Marc Ruby™ HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Robert Parker has a certain love for ironic plots. Bad Business, with its cluster of detectives following various spouses to determine who is cheating whom, is full of irony and misdirection. Spenser is hired by the wife of one executive to follow her husbands who seems to have hired another detective to... Well, you get the idea - open marriages gone psychotic.

Or so it would seem. But when murder begins to become a part of the shenanigans Spenser realizes that something more important is at stake in a story that picks up on the Enron scandals and then stands loyalty and faithfulness on its head. Kinergy has its own variations on corporate corruption, and layered on top of this is a talk show host who wants to maximize bed sharing.

Of course, Susan Silverman, Pearl the Wonder Dog II, and Hawk put in regular appearances so that us Spenser junkies will get our filp of flip and sarcastic dialog. After all, it is Parker's wizardry with dialog that keeps us coming back. Even if the story is a bit frail, the players make up for it time and again.

Spenser is the last true knight of Boston. He still compulsively comes to the rescue and can't stand to see a woman cry. The times change in these novels, but the main characters remain stable and attractive as if they lived in a time line all there own. And frankly, I can never resist them.

My one complaint with any Spenser novel is that it is too short. Parker's writing ability draws the reader through the book at lightning speed, and it's all too easy to finish them in one or two sittings. On the other hand, they never cloy, and are often just the right length to refresh one after reading too many serious stories.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
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.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Spenser novels of Robert Parker are characterized by witty, sarcastic dialog between the characters. Even when the plot line is weak, the way they speak to each other always delivers a high level of entertainment. In this story, Marlene Crowley hires Spenser to follow her husband to determine if he is cheating on her. His name is Trent Crowley and he is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Kinergy, one of the most dynamic companies around. It is an energy trading company and rose from very small beginnings to an apparent powerhouse. Robert Cooper, the CEO of Kinergy and an expert glad-hander, has designs on a run for the U. S. Senate, so he wants to keep his image as clean as possible.

When Trent Crowley is murdered on the Kinergy premises, things change. Furthermore, Spenser finds a veritable daisy chain of wife swapping and private detectives following husbands and wives. As usual, Spenser makes enemies, one of which is Gavin, the chief of security at Kinergy. When Gavin is killed, there seems to be no reason for the murders. However, Spenser eventually determines the identity of the murderers, amid the additional discovery that Kinergy is a house of cards. The higher executives have been gradually selling off their stock in anticipation that it will quickly become nearly worthless. The ending is not a great dramatic one, as there is no shootout, just Spenser punching a man.

This story is taken directly from the events surrounding the collapse of Enron, with the exception of the internal mate-swapping and the murders, you could replace Kinergy with Enron and most of the story would be factual. I don't consider it one of Parker's best Spenser novels, but once again the quality of the dialog makes it very entertaining. Hawk and Vinnie Morris appear, but are not heavily involved, which is a disappointment. In my opinion, the conversations between Spenser and Hawk are the best dialog in the Spenser series.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. D Smith on September 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always look forward to the latest Spenser novel coming out in paperback. "Bad Business" does not disappoint. The bad guys are bad, some of the good guys used to be bad, and we continue to see the same smart-ass one liners that Spenser and Hawk come up with. I'm always in a better mood when I read a Spenser novel; the fast pacing and wisecracking just keep me going. The friend who turned me on to this series has the same trait. He named one of his sons Spenser, he likes the series so much. I read this one over a period of 4 days. It paints a smarmy image of corporate politics points to an "Enron"-like company as the source of a group of high management people who are involved in a sex swap group activity as a way to "free" themselves. I think this part of the plot was contrived, but I still enjoyed the fast pace and Spenser and CO. dealing with it. This one goes on the bookshelf on the opposite of The Godwulf Manuscript, and 20 something more Spenser paper backs occupy the space between. If you like Spenser novels, you'll enjoy this one.
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