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.
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.
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.