The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser Series #1)

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Overview

Spenser earned his degree in the school of hard knocks, so he is ready when a Boston university hires him to recover a rare, stolen manuscript. He is hardly surpised that his only clue is a radical student with four bullets in his chest.

The cops are ready to throw the book at the pretty blond coed whose prints are all over the murder weapon but Spenser knows there are no easy answers. He tackles some very heavy homework and knows that if he doesn't finish his assignment soon, ...

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Paperback Good Good mass market paperback (Berkley, 1975, 4th printing, 188 pages; ISBN 0425039676); pages clean, tight, unmarked, lightly tanned; binding sound, spine ... uncreased; mild creasing on covers; red star stamped on inside front cover; minor writing blacked out on flyleaf; previous owner's name on copyright page; on its way to you the same or next day in bubblewrap; email confirmation; standard (media) mail takes 4-14 days; expedited (priority) mail takes 2-5 days; international orders go by airmail (6-10 days). Read more Show Less

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The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser Series #1)

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Overview

Spenser earned his degree in the school of hard knocks, so he is ready when a Boston university hires him to recover a rare, stolen manuscript. He is hardly surpised that his only clue is a radical student with four bullets in his chest.

The cops are ready to throw the book at the pretty blond coed whose prints are all over the murder weapon but Spenser knows there are no easy answers. He tackles some very heavy homework and knows that if he doesn't finish his assignment soon, he could end up marked "D" -- for dead.

"Spenser is Boston's answer to James Bond -- irreverent, witty, worldy. His first-person recital of his detective work makes for fast, amusing reading." (The Pittsburgh Press)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425039670
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/1/1978
  • Series: Spenser Series, #1

Meet the Author

Robert B. Parker
Featuring rapid-fire dialogue and spicy characters, Robert B. Parker's books are top-shelf reading for fans of detective crime novels. His Spenser series is several titles strong and an established classic; lately Parker has raised the stakes with two additional series (one featuring private eye Sunny Randle, the other featuring police chief Jesse Stone) that may eventually rival his beloved Boston P.I.

Biography

Robert B. Parker began as a student of hard-boiled crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but when he became a crime writer himself, he was one of the rare contemporary authors to be considered on par with his predecessors. The Spenser series, featuring a Boston-based ex-boxer and ex-cop, is one of the genre's most respected and popular fixtures.

Noted for their sharp dialogue and fine character development, the Spenser books carry on a tradition while updating it, particularly in giving its hero two strong alter egos in Hawk, a black friend and right-hand man; and Susan Silverman, Spenser's psychologist love interest. Parker's inclusion of other races and sexual persuasions (several of his novels feature gay characters, a sensibility strengthened in Parker through his sons, both of whom are gay) give a more modern feel to the cases coming into Spenser's office.

The Spenser series, which began with 1973's The Godwulf Manuscript, has an element of toughness that suits its Boston milieu; but it delves just as often into the complex relationship between Silverman and Spenser, and the interplay between the P.I. and Hawk.

By the late ‘80s, Parker had acquired such a reputation that the agent for Raymond Chandler's estate tapped him to finish the legend's last book, Poodle Springs. It was a thankless mission bound to earn criticism, but Parker carried off the task well, thanks to his gift for to-the-point writing and deft plotting. "Parker isn't, even here, the writer Chandler was, but he's not a sentimentalist, and he darkens and deepens Marlowe," the Atlantic concluded. In 1991, Parker took a second crack at Chandler with the Big Sleep sequel Perchance to Dream.

Parker took other detours from Spenser over the years. In 1999, Family Honor introduced Sunny Randall, a female Boston private eye Parker created with actress Helen Hunt in mind. Two years earlier, he introduced L.A.-to-New England cop transplant Jesse Stone in Night Passage. He also authored four bestselling Westerns featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, a few young adult books, as well as several stand-alone novels that were well-received by his many fans.

Parker died suddenly in January 2010 while at home at his desk, working on a book. The cause was a heart attack. He was seventy-seven.

Good To Know

Parker's thesis in graduate school was a study of the private eye in literature that centered on Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross MacDonald. Critics would later put him in the same category as those authors.

Parker's main hero is named for Edmund Spenser, the 16th-century author of The Faerie Queene.

Parker had a hand in writing the scripts for some television adaptations of Spenser books starring Robert Urich, who also played Spenser in the ABC series from 1985-88. Urich suffered a battle with cancer and passed away in 2002, but adaptations continue to be made for A&E, starring Joe Mantegna. Parker approved of the new actor, telling the New York Times: ''I looked at Joe and I saw Spenser."

According to a profile in the New York Times, Parker met his wife Joan when the two were toddlers at a birthday party. The two reconnected as freshmen at Colby College and eventually had two sons. They credit the survival of their marriage to a house split into separate living spaces, so that the two can enjoy more independent lives than your average husband and wife.

Parker told fans in a 1999 Barnes & Noble.com chat that he thought his non-series historical novel All Our Yesterdays was "the best thing I've ever written."

Parker had a small speaking part in the 1997 A&E adaptation of Small Vices. How does he have time to write his Spenser books, plus the other series and the adaptation stuff? "Keep in mind, it takes me four or five months to write a novel, which leaves me a lot of time the rest of the year," he told Book magazine. "I don't like to hang around."

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    1. Date of Birth:
      September 17, 1932
    2. Place of Birth:
      Springfield, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      January 18, 2010
    2. Place of Death:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Colby College, 1954; M.A., Ph. D. in English, Boston University, 1957, 1971
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 118 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(30)

2 Star

(8)

1 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 120 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2009

    #1 of a Great Series

    Parker's "Spencer" is one of my favorite series of all times. You must read this first book in order to fully enjoy how each character came to be throughout the series.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2001

    Off to a Good Start

    Most first attempts are a tad awkward and Robert Parker's GODWULF MANUSCRIPT is no exception. However, this book is actually quite excellent, our hero just isn't developed yet. There is no Hawk (his sometime sidekick) and we haven't met Susan yet. What makes the rest of the series so incredible is that we know Spenser already and now it's just a matter of seeing what happens next. Don't be skeptical. This is where it all began; a series that has so far produced about thirty novels, movies, and a TV series. These aren't 'whodunnits' in the classical sense where the guilty person could be one of several characters. The excitement of the books is finding out what Spenser will do next. The reader often knows who did it from the beginning. It's just a matter of watching Spenser do his job. Once you read one Spenser novel you'll be addicted, so you might as well start here and begin the journey. Not only are they quick reads, you'll never want to put them down. Trust me.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The Best Mystery series ever!!

    I highly encourage you to start at the beginning and enjoy the SPENSER book series. The entire series can be read individually but I would start at the beginning. The late Robert Parker has such a feel for the Boston area and using that for great mysteries. Spenser is a private eye, that was a former police officer, and helping those who need the help the most is his thing. Book one does not have the main characters you will see later on in the series (Susan and Hawk) but I think that is why I started back at the beginning again after reading the entire series over the last decade.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Classic Early Spenser

    First in the Spenser series - funny how the genre has changed over the years. How often do we find 200 page novels these days? Mysteries/thrillers these days are much longer and involve all types of protagonists - cops, detectives, agents, ex-military cops, etc. Spenser? Stereo-typical private eye, but Parker does it right.

    While short in length, this was a solid introduction to Spenser and a couple of the recurring characters. The rating is three stars, but it probably is more like 3.5 or 3.75. Just not enough there to get it to a four star level. I am doing more and more "series" reading from the beginning (Camel Club, Jack Reacher, Lucas Davenport, Harry Bosch, etc.) and I'm glad I started the Spenser series. This first outing leaves me wanting more - so I'm jumping right into book #2, God Save the Child.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2006

    Boston-baked-beans. No Torn Halves of Claim Checks. Searing the Social Brine

    Different from the style Parker has perfected in his later Spenser novels, this pilot is richer and meatier in setting and action, with the dialogue taking a back seat to the narrative drama. I like the mood of the pilot, as well as the evolution of it as Parker geometrically-progressed Spenser into a phenomenon. The opening scene of an interview with the university principal captured instantly. I cheered Spenser as he identified and put down a classic, pompous azz. Couldn¿t resist the soul honesty of a P.I. who wasn¿t vulnerable to or taken in by sheer snootiness. Spenser continued reinforcing my be-glued-ability by being brutishly unimpressed by any type of status, prestige, power, or pomp. He breezed aloofly and artfully through the first half of the book, sloughing off every character¿s attempt to control or intimidate him, including clients (who gave him retainers) with oodles of prestige and/or money and class-stature, including a heady collection of various levels and types of police presence (who gave him grief, which he returned in Sam Spade finesse). I gleefully began to get a picture of what Spenser didn¿t respect (me neither), a clear idea of what he observed with crisply designed disgust. As I applauded with high entertainment, I was egged on to know the type of person he would respect. The first simple, ¿I liked her¿ didn¿t show up until I could measure well over a third the total page thickness. Note the ending passage of a murder scene in which Parker exposed his rich history of having wallowed in the marrow of detective fiction: ¿There were no telltale cigar butts, no torn halves of claim checks, no traces of lint from an imported cashmere cloth sold only by J. Press. No footprints, no thumb prints, no clues. Just a drowned kid swelling with death in a shabby bathroom in a crummy apartment in a lousy building run by a grumpy janitor. And me.¿ It¿s not the way a detective novelist describes Death which tells the tale of his seasoning. It¿s the way he sets the murder scene, describes dead bodies, and picks at clues around them. To see this, read chapter 15 from its opening, through the murder scene, through the above quoted passage, to the point of the building super saying, ¿Yes sir.¿ I slipped effortlessly from tearing to cheering. Loved the way Quirk and Spenser did their first male bonding scene in which Spencer answers each of Quirk¿s litany of nagging concerns with ¿me either.¿ Also enjoyed the earlier hostile scenes between these two justice juggling guys as they took their time taking measure of each other, yet seemed to sense kindred-ness ¿at first sight.¿ This is a pure and polished gem upon which a pulchritude of a collection has grown, written by an author who had already primed his seasoning as a novelist. That he continued writing from that level and plateau-ed higher has earned him every sparkle of limelight. I¿m thankful when what I get for my dime allows me to wine and dine in my mind, as the author sears the social brine.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 14, 2014

    The first Spenser

    Before Hawk, when Susan Silverman was new on the scene, set in 1970's Boston -- A great read of the beginning of the Spenser series.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Highly Recommend

    Early Parker was the best. If you've never read the early stuff start here you won't go wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    not Jesse stone

    I had read all of the Jesse Stone novels, even the newer ones not by Parker (they're missing the master's touch), so I thought I'd try the Spenser ones. I didn't care for the main character, as sacrilegious as that sounds, so I didn't enjoy the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2013

    Not a bad entry into detective stories for someone that hasn't had much experience with them.

    Not a bad entry into detective stories for someone that hasn't had much experience with them. I went in blind, so I was a bit unprepaired for how heavily dated the book feels. It wasn't too distracting. There were just moments where I wasn't catching the reference or I had to look up what a term I was unfamiliar with meant. What I really liked the bits of business that helped develop the main character. I'm not a huge fan of stories where the action gets paused for several pages to give descriptions I think it works here because it helps to establish the character's attention to detail. Like someone taking stock of all the important notes they would want to remember if they needed to provide that information to a police officer later. Also there was some nice showing and not telling of the main character's off hours hobbies.

    I'm undecided on if I'll come back to this series. There wasn't anything here that really put me off of it. It's just that it's not in my usual wheelhouse

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  • Posted September 13, 2012

    Classic

    Read this book many years ago, like revisiting an old friend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Very, very Good Read.

    I was a fan of the " Spencer " tv show, and the books are even better. The pace of the story does slow once or twice but didn'y hurt the book overall. Very enjoyable read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2011

    Love the Spenser Series

    Another great read by Robert B. Parker.

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    Posted December 26, 2009

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