Picks and Pans Review: Bad Business

updated 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/29/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Robert B. Parker

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Tyco's Dennis Kozlowski used company money to throw his wife a $2 million birthday party featuring roving models dressed as gladiators. Can fiction out-do truth when it comes to 21st-century corporate shenanigans? Parker tries to prove it can in his 31st Spenser novel, pitting the zinging detective against a high-flying Massachusetts company. The niftiest sequence comes at the start: Enlisted by a suspicious wife to follow her philandering executive husband, Spenser tracks him to a hotel room only to encounter another P.I. following the exec's bedmate—and a third shamus tailing Spenser's own client. (Professional courtesy reigns: The detectives trade clues.) Said husband turns up dead, and Spenser soon discovers plenty is fishy at the company. Bad Business makes for a juicy read, about average for the dependable series. One quibble: Does Spenser have to be so faithful and incorruptible? He's so perfect he kills half the suspense.

MYSTERY

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