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Bad Business    by Robert B. Parker order for
Bad Business
by Robert B. Parker
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Spenser's back with yet another dysfunctional client - indeed Marlene Rowley is so 'self-absorbed and self-important and insecure and autocratic and dependent' that the PI quits several times (he wants to file her 'under Life's Too Short.') But Marlene's selfish, not stupid, and cajoles him back on the job again and again.

It starts out as typical 'divorce work'. Marlene asks Spenser to follow her hubbie, who soon spends time with another woman in a hotel. This standard surveillance turns interesting - a case of musical PIs - when Spenser discovers that the other woman is also being followed, as is her husband. What's going on? They're all executives of a company called Kynergy, whose financial finagling is byzantine at best (and likely to leave the little guys out in the cold). The COO and CFO and their wives are all involved in adulterous sex under the guidance of 'corporate pimp' Darrin O'Mara, who runs a local talk show titled 'Matters of the Heart'.

Of course, Spenser consults the love of his life Susan, and includes both Hawk and Vinnie in an investigation that quickly ties in to multiple murders. Hawk's lady, thoracic surgeon Cecile, helps out by taking a 'casting call' for love (hope she stays involved in future episodes). A 'smallish man with long dark hair' keeps making appearances - who is he? A lovely lady (another senior Kynergy VP) named Adele needs protection, and trades information for it. And Spenser does what he does best - banters his way to solving the mystery and bagging the villains.

There's a nice aside on the 'secret society', spearheaded by Spenser of course, of men (both cops and robbers) with the same core beliefs, who respect each other. And there's a peripheral mystery that intrigued me even more than the central one. Why are Spenser and co. munching Dunkin' Donuts instead of Krispy Kremes, and when did this revolution happen? Guess that's another story. If you're a Spenser fan, don't miss Bad Business - this long-running series is as smooth and strong as ever.

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