Bad Business (Spenser Series #31)

( 17 )

Overview

One of the great series in the history of the American detective story gets even better when Spenser is hired by a jilted bride to follow a cheating husband, only to cross paths with a detective hired to tail the two-timing wife. They aren't the most trusting couple in town, but as it turns out, they are the most dangerous.

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Bad Business (Spenser Series #31)

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Overview

One of the great series in the history of the American detective story gets even better when Spenser is hired by a jilted bride to follow a cheating husband, only to cross paths with a detective hired to tail the two-timing wife. They aren't the most trusting couple in town, but as it turns out, they are the most dangerous.

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Editorial Reviews

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. (Mar. 8) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Spenser tracks a straying husband who in turn has set an investigator on his wife's trail-a tangled mess that leads to corporate murder. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
God's gift to the Boston crime scene follows an errant husband into a world of corporate malfeasance. Convinced that her husband is straying on a nightly basis, starchy Marlene Rowley hires Spenser to get the goods on him. Hardly has the hired knight-errant begun his surveillance of Trent Rowley when he notices that somebody's following Marlene. And soon after satisfying himself that Trent has been dallying with Ellen Eisen, Spenser realizes that she's being followed as well. Why the sudden interest in the Rowleys' domestic entanglements? It's too late to ask Trent Rowley, because he's been shot to death by somebody who had no trouble breaching the security at Kinergy, the Enron-like energy-trading octopus where he toiled alongside his mistress and her husband. So Spenser settles for being a charming nuisance to the surviving suspects-though, as he aptly notes, his witticisms "mostly . . . amused myself"-hoping to shake loose some revelation that will link the Rowleys' swinging sex life to the spreading stain of corruption readers are learning to associate with energy-trading firms. Eventually he does, with a little help from his loyal sidekicks Hawk and Susan Richman, though it's never entirely clear just how he comes by his climactic brainwave. Parker thickens the plot with a master's patience, producing some satisfyingly unexpected twists, even though, in accord with his recent manner (Back Story, 2003, etc.), he's a lot less careful about wrapping it all up.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425199572
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Series: Spenser Series , #31
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 258,396
  • Product dimensions: 4.34 (w) x 6.64 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT B. PARKER is the author of more than forty books. He lives in Boston.

Biography

Robert B. Parker began as a student of hard-boiled crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but when he became a crime writer himself, he was one of the rare contemporary authors to be considered on par with his predecessors. The Spenser series, featuring a Boston-based ex-boxer and ex-cop, is one of the genre's most respected and popular fixtures.

Noted for their sharp dialogue and fine character development, the Spenser books carry on a tradition while updating it, particularly in giving its hero two strong alter egos in Hawk, a black friend and right-hand man; and Susan Silverman, Spenser's psychologist love interest. Parker's inclusion of other races and sexual persuasions (several of his novels feature gay characters, a sensibility strengthened in Parker through his sons, both of whom are gay) give a more modern feel to the cases coming into Spenser's office.

The Spenser series, which began with 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript, has an element of toughness that suits its Boston milieu; but it delves just as often into the complex relationship between Silverman and Spenser, and the interplay between the P.I. and Hawk.

By the late ‘80s, Parker had acquired such a reputation that the agent for Raymond Chandler's estate tapped him to finish the legend's last book, Poodle Springs. It was a thankless mission bound to earn criticism, but Parker carried off the task well, thanks to his gift for to-the-point writing and deft plotting. "Parker isn't, even here, the writer Chandler was, but he's not a sentimentalist, and he darkens and deepens Marlowe," the Atlantic concluded. In 1991, Parker took a second crack at Chandler with the Big Sleep sequel Perchance to Dream.

Parker took other detours from Spenser over the years. In 1999, Family Honor introduced Sunny Randall, a female Boston private eye Parker created with actress Helen Hunt in mind. Two years earlier, he introduced L.A.-to-New England cop transplant Jesse Stone in Night Passage. He also authored four bestselling Westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, a few young adult books, as well as several stand-alone novels that were well-received by his many fans.

Parker died suddenly in January 2010 while at home at his desk, working on a book. The cause was a heart attack. He was seventy-seven.

Good To Know

Parker's thesis in graduate school was a study of the private eye in literature that centered on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald. Critics would later put him in the same category as those authors.

Parker's main hero is named for Edmund Spenser, the 16th-century author of The Faerie Queene.

Parker had a hand in writing the scripts for some television adaptations of Spenser books starring Robert Urich, who also played Spenser in the ABC series from 1985-88. Urich suffered a battle with cancer and passed away in 2002, but adaptations continue to be made for A&E, starring Joe Mantegna. Parker approved of the new actor, telling the New York Times: ''I looked at Joe and I saw Spenser."

According to a profile in the New York Times, Parker met his wife Joan when the two were toddlers at a birthday party. The two reconnected as freshmen at Colby College and eventually had two sons. They credit the survival of their marriage to a house split into separate living spaces, so that the two can enjoy more independent lives than your average husband and wife.

Parker told fans in a 1999 Barnes & Noble.com chat that he thought his non-series historical novel All Our Yesterdays was "the best thing I've ever written."

Parker had a small speaking part in the 1997 A&E adaptation of Small Vices. How does he have time to write his Spenser books, plus the other series and the adaptation stuff? "Keep in mind, it takes me four or five months to write a novel, which leaves me a lot of time the rest of the year," he told Book magazine. "I don't like to hang around."

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 17, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Springfield, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      January 18, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Do you do divorce work?" the woman said.

"I do," I said.

"Are you any good?"

"I am," I said.

"I don't want likelihood," she said. "Or guesswork. I need evidence that will stand up in court."

"That's not up to me," I said. "That's up to the evidence."

She sat quietly in my client chair and thought about that.

"You're telling me you won't manufacture it," she said.

"Yes," I said.

"You won't have to," she said. "The sonovabitch can't keep his dick in his pants for a full day."

"Must make dining out a little awkward," I said.

She ignored me. I was used to it. Mostly I amused myself.

"I always have trouble convincing people that any man would cheat on a woman like me. I mean, look at me."

"Unbelievable," I said.

"My attorneys tell me you are too expensive," she said. "But that you are probably worth it."

"The same could be remarked of Susan Silverman."

She frowned.

"Who the hell is Susan Silverman?" she said.

"Girl of my dreams."

She frowned again. Then she said, "Oh, I see. You're being cute."

"It's my nature," I said.

"Well, it's not mine," she said. "Do you want the job?"

"Sure."

"My attorneys will want a strict accounting of what you spend," she said.

"I'll bet they will," I said.

She was good-looking in kind of an old-fashioned way. Sort of womanly. Before personal trainers, and StairMasters. Like the women in Life Magazine when we were all much younger. Like she would look good in a small-waisted white polka-dot dress, and a huge straw hat with a white polka-dot band. In fact, of course, she was wearing a beige pantsuit and big pearls. Her reddish blond hair was long and thoroughly sprayed, and framed her face like the halo in a mediaeval religious painting. Her mouth was kind of thin and her eyes were small. I imagined cheating on her.

"I'm represented by Frampton and Keyes," she said. "Do you know the firm?"

"I don't."

"You'll do all further business through them. The managing partner is Randy Frampton."

"Why didn't you let them hire me," I said.

"I don't let other people make judgments for me. I wanted to look you in the eye."

I nodded.

"Do you have pictures of your husband?" I said. "Names of suspected paramours? Addresses? That sort of thing?"

"You can get all that from Randy."

"And a retainer?"

"Randy will take care of that as well."

"Good for Randy," I said. "Will he tell me your name, too?"

"I'd rather keep that confidential for now," she said. "This is a very sensitive situation."

I smiled.

"Ma'am," I said. "How long do you think it will take me to find out your name once I know who your husband is?"

"I . . ."

I smiled my sunny good-natured smile at her. I could melt polar ice caps with my sunny good-natured smile. She was no match for it.

"Marlene," she said. "Marlene Rowley. My husband is Trenton Rowley."

"How do you do," I said. "My name is Spenser."

"Of course I know your name," she said. "How do you think I got here?"

"I thought you looked up handsome in the phone book," I said. "And my picture was there."

She smiled for the first time that morning.

"Well," she said. "Maybe you are a little bit handsome in a rough sort of way."

"Tough," I said. "But sensitive."

"Perhaps," she said. "Will you speak with Randy?"

"Right away," I said.

--from Bad Business by Robert B. Parker, copyright © 2004 Robert B. Parker, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bad Business was hilariously witty and clever.

    I read this in two days, and I couldn't put it down. I love the way it is written in tiny chapters, and I find that it seems to mirror my own sort of writing style. It is probably one of my favorites and has you guessing until the very end. I was so fond of this book, that I have decided to try and read the whole series (36 books) in its entirety.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2004

    Just Another One

    How does Parker do it? After thirty some Spenser's he still has the fresh dialogue and writing. He is always suspensful and has a few tricks up his sleeve. This is probably one of the best Spenser's, next to Chance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My first Spenser for Hire

    Audio/Unabridged: I've seen Jesse Stone & Spenser for Hire on TV so I was interested when I saw this at the library sale. I really liked it. The plot and outcome were so-so, but the character development was wonderful. You get the whole dynamic of Spenser & Susan and Spenser & Hawk. Hawk, aka "Licorice Stick" is the best part. The relationship between the him and Spenser is enlightening and not condescending or politically correct like so many white writers. Parker hits the nail on the head with the banter between the two as two adults, one white and one black. It was very refreshing to hear that kind of friendship. Joe Mantegna does the narration, but I still picture Spencer as Robert Urich & Hawk as Avery Brooks from the old TV series. [I had just listened to another CD he read and I liked this one so much better]. Worth a listen.

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  • Posted December 12, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book.

    Was a great read just like all the other Spenser novels in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2005

    Laughing 'till the end.

    I really enjoyed reading this book considering I am very picky. I love sarcasm and there was plenty in this book. He combines humor and mystery together and makes it a good read. You see a little into the main character's personal life. You meet all his friends that are also in books you have already read and ones you are going to read. Plus he keeps you on the edge waiting to find out who murdered who. Definitly not a book for young kids under the highschool level because of the amount and choice of bad words. But other than that a vary good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2005

    Blah Business

    I'm a fan of most of Parker's work ( not the female Spenser series, though ). This one was pretty boring. A few funny lines, but never really held my interest. At least the chapters were short so I didn't have to waste too much time reading it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    An Engaging Thriller

    Like most Robert B. Parker fans, I love everything he writes, but prefer the Spencer novels,thus I was delighted that Bad Business featured private investigator, Spencer. Bad Business is an edge-of-the-seat unpredicable thrill. This one is a winner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2004

    GREAT

    Nobody has EVER written like Parker -- his Spenser series are THE best and you have to read one to really know what the rest of us are saying! I agree that this one was a little disjointed and harder to follow but the characters are, as always, timely and wonderful to a Parker fan!! Nobody can write dialog like him -- there just is no comparison. Maybe not his greatest book but still great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2004

    Spenser's at in Again

    Robert Parker once again throws Spencer into the middle of another case with Hawk and Susan. Between the typical Parker dialogue and banter, Spenser is never at a loss for words (or trouble). And, The reader can find out if this is a case that private investigator Spenser actually gets paid for! This may not be one of Parkers best, but if you enjoy the Spenser series and see Parker for the 'Master' that he is, you won't be dispointed with 'Bad Business'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    Another gem.

    I received the book in the mail Tuesday about 11:00. Finished it before bedtime and it was a lot longer than Parker's usual offering. This one seemed a little disjointed to me but still enjoyable. I have read every Spenser novel. No one writes dialog like Parker. No one. Hawk is his usual self and I hope he never changes. I still think Susan is too good to be true; no body can exist just nibbling lettuce leaves, except maybe a rabbit.

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    Posted May 7, 2009

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