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The Business    by Iain Banks order for
by Iain Banks
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2000 (1999)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

The Business is difficult to classify. It has mystery, romance, wit, and a number of delightful characters including the heroine, Kate Telman. Kate is a high level executive of a mega company, the Business, whose origins predate the Christian church and possibly the Roman Empire, which the Business actually owned for 66 days.

The novel starts, not with a bang but a whimper, with Kate involved in a difficult telephone conversation with one of her staff who has had half of his teeth extracted (not by choice). This makes an amusing beginning and, incidentally, leads Kate to the solution of the mystery in the end. The mystery is comparatively trivial (only the theft of a few billion dollars) and it is just one of many hooks to make the story a seamless whole.

It is difficult to find something totally original in this day and age. I think Kate achieves it when she extracts information she needs from a colleague by torturing - not him but his brand new Ferrari. As a romance, The Business falls short in that Kate gives up the love of her life and reluctantly accepts a greater love and a very different life to end the novel. But it is certainly first class writing. Don't miss The Business, it's a great read!

Note: Iain Banks also writes science fiction under the unexpected pseudonym of Iain M. Banks (I particularly enjoyed one titled Feersum Endjinn).

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