Robert Parker's remarkable characters, stunning dialogue and his quixotic focus on seeking the impossible dream are present in all of the Spenser books. In recent years, the plots have been getting thinner and thinner, however . . . and even the repartee seems mostly for show rather than to build naturally on a great story. But in Bad Business, the original Parker genius reappears for a time. As in the best of the early books in the series, Bad Business has a fascinating and often surprising plot involving the twin sins of adultery and greed.
The opening of the book has some of the best plot development I have ever read, filled with clever misdirection that plays on our assumptions from having read too many boiler-plate mystery novels.
In fact, if the book had concluded after 125 pages, I would have described this as one of the very best Spenser novels.
Unfortunately, the book bogs down in solving the mystery. Although the slow pace was probably intended to maintain an intriguing suspense, the pace just seems to drag instead to an inevitable conclusion. I think the mistake was to base part of the plot a little too closely to a recent corporate collapse. That connection telegraphed part of the ending too soon.
I won't attempt to describe the situation of the book, for I will risk spoiling the book for you. Instead, let me advise you to read carefully and keep an open mind as you do.
As I finished this book, I realized that part of the appeal of popular novels is that they take us places where we would never go on our own. When done well, they pique and satisfy our curiosity in harmless ways. I look forward to taking future such excursions with Mr. Parker and Spenser in the future.