In Spenser's 25th appearance, the peerless Boston shamus is reduced to doing pro bono work on behalf of his lover Susan Silverman's scapegrace of an ex-husband. At least that's how it starts out. Brad Sterling (after sharing his last name with Susan, he anglicized himself out of it) is a promoter who arranges charity fund-raisers, and the fallout from the latest one, a big-tent event called Galapalooza, is a sexual harassment suit against him. Even after Brad crawls to his first ex (there are others) for help, he's too manly to admit to Spenser that he's in a jam--their first scene together is all coy giggles on Brad's part, all slow bum on Spenser's--so there's nothing for Spenser to do but talk to the four well-connected complainants, who all, to a woman, tell him they have nothing to say about the case. The obligatory goons show up to threaten Spenser if he doesn't give up the case, but not only do they fail to muss his hair, they don't keep him from finding out that Galapalooza was a bust for participants besides Brad; it didn't raise money for anybody--except possibly an organization called Civil Streets, whose president, Carla Quagliozzi, is just as silent as the alleged harassees, and just as menacing--via her secret weapon, seamy attorney Richard Gavin--as the goons. Then Brad takes a powder, leaving behind a dead body in his office The cops are after Brad; the goons are after Spenser; and Spenser turns out, by the time he's fished the last secret out of Galapalooza, to be after just about every crimelord in Boston. Parker (Small Vices, 1997, etc.) writes as mean a page as ever. But this time the daisy chain of felonies is limp and illogical, and the deep moralizing--Susan's florid attitudinizing about her onetime husband--is merely self-important. Fortunately, there's always next year.