Bad Business (Spenser Series #31)

Bad Business (Spenser Series #31)

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A cheating husband and a wayward wife provide Spenser with an unconventional and dangerous surveillance job.

When Marlene Cowley hires Spenser to see if her husband, Trent, is cheating on her, he encounters more than he bargained for: Not only does he find a two-timing husband, but a second investigator as well, hired by the husband to look after his wife. As a result of their joint efforts, Spenser soon finds himself investigating both individual depravity and corporate corruption.

It seems the folks in the Cowley's circle have become enamored of radio talk-show host Darrin O'Mara, whose views on Courtly Love are clouding some already fuzzy minds with the notion of cross-connubial relationships. O'Mara's brand of sex therapy is unconventional at best, unlawful-and deadly-at worst. Then a murder at Kinergy, where Trent Cowley is CFO, sends Spenser in yet another direction. Apparently, the unfettered pursuit of profit has a price.

With razor-sharp characterizations and finely honed prose, this is Parker writing at the height of his powers.

Author Biography: Robert B. Parker is the author of more than forty books.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780739371190
Publisher: Random House Adult Trade Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/2007
Series: Spenser Series , #31
Product dimensions: 4.87(w) x 7.79(h) x 1.15(d)

About the Author

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

Date of Birth:

September 17, 1932

Date of Death:

January 18, 2010

Place of Birth:

Springfield, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Cambridge, Massachusetts


B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971

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?"


"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.

Table of Contents

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Bad Business (Spenser Series #31) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Richard-Cory More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
benfulton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good solid Spenser. There's nothing wrong with a formula if you can make it interesting. Late in a series it's hard to come up with plausible plotlines and the thinly disguised Enron company in this one must have been a nice inspiration. I didn't care for the "free love" angle as I don't think truly high-powered executives would expose themselves to that kind of blackmail opportunity. But all the fun characters and snappy dialog are here; good read.
MeriJenBen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spenser, initially hired to get proof of adultery for a divorce case soon finds himself investigating the man's murder. Trent Rowley, a high ranking executive at the energy firm Kinergy, was shot twice in his office. Spenser, investigates, soon finds Rowley was a student of Darrin O'Mara, a radio host who champions courtly love (a.k.a. open marriage). Aside from wife swapping, Spenser also uncovers a costly scam at Kinergy, which may have gotten Rowley killed.One of the better Spenser books, although the sex plot and the corporate malfeasance plot don't really gel all that well. Parker wrote this in the age of Enron, giving it a certain verisimilitude. As with most Spenser books, the culprits are fairly obvious about 3/4 of the way through the book, and the fun is in how well he gets you to the end. Not bad.
phoenixcomet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read it a couple of days ago, can't remember what it's about now. Typical Robert B. Parker, fast moving, easy to read and Spenser is always delightful even if there are no surprises left.
drebbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Marlene Crowley hires Boston PI Spenser to find out if her husband is cheating on her. What seems like a simple case quickly becomes complicated when Marlene's husband, Trent, is murdered. Trent was a CFO at Kinergy, an energy trading company. Investigating the murder, Spenser discovers several wrong-doings at Kinergy, including spouse swapping, shoddy accounting practices and another murder. Spenser has plenty of suspects and works with the usual crew, including his long-time love, Susan Silverman, and his friend, Hawk, to solve the crime. Robert Parker's Spenser series is what I call cotton candy for the brain. There's nothing groundbreaking here, it's just a highly entertaining read and there's nothing wrong with that. What makes the series work is the snappy humorous dialogue between the characters. My only complaint is that there's not enough Hawk, he doesn't show up until halfway through the book. The mystery itself is fine, if transparent, but I don't read Parker's books for the plot but for the interactions between characters, especially Spenser and Hawk. This is a good beach book.
raizel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I agree with the other reviewers: cotton candy for the brain, but his candy always has some meat hidden inside. This time he tries to explain Enron. The only thing that bothered me is that if Hawk's current girlfriend had been someone else, Spenser might have never found out what was really going on. No one writes warm cozies like Parker. (Maybe I should increase my number of stars.)
RDeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Spenser novels were always lightweight, but fun and smart in the beginning. By the time this novel came out, it was truly formulistic. Actually, it was just plain tired. Simplistic plot, characters who were just going through the motions. Move along, nothing to see here.
Kathy89 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Spencer book involving corporation corruption on the level of Enron. Found the CPA's explanation of money finagling difficult to understand but the charm of Spencer, Hawk, and Susan made it an interesting book
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bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
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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Mrstjl More than 1 year ago
Was a great read just like all the other Spenser novels in this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.