Reviewed: January 15, 2006
By: Robert B. Parker
Publisher: Berkley Books
336 pages, $10.99
Spenser should have known better than to
take a divorce case. Maybe it was that Marlene Rowley seemed so utterly clueless;
perhaps that brought out the knight errant in him. He's a soft touch that
way. Besides, there was some money in it and his last case only paid him in
There wasn't supposed to have been a murder
in this case. It was a startling development. Spenser actually ended up reporting
the crime when the man he was shadowing failed to leave his office one night.
All of this eventually led to the realization
that there was something rotten at the heart of the Kinergy company for which
Trenton Rowley had worked as a senior executive. It seems fairly clear that
Parker wrote this book after the Enron scandal. The scam that some of the
senior management have been working at Kinergy, which also deals in energy
and oil futures and distribution, seems quite similar.
As bent as the company's corporate practices
might have been, it soon emerges that the private lives of its top executives
are even more so. Tracking down this angle of the case actually provides Spenser
with the leverage he needs to solve the rest of it.
As usual, much of the novel is on comfortable
ground, dealing with the relationships between Spenser and the love of his
life, Susan Silverman, as well as his complicated relationship with Hawk.
A couple of new characters are brought into the mix in this instalment of
the series, and this gives Parker the opportunity to have discussions about
the motivations and ethics or his central cast.
While nothing terribly significant happens
here in terms of long range development of Spenser and his cronies, Bad
Business was nevertheless a satisfying book, one I enjoyed and got a few
chuckles out of. It's not always necessary to break new ground in a series;
sometimes it's enough to tend the garden you already have.