First Sentence: The office of the university president looked like the front parlor of a successful Victorian whorehouse.
Boston PI Spenser (with an 's' like the poet) has been hired by a university president to recover a 14th century illuminated manuscript. He is directed to a SCARE, the Student committee Against Capitalist Exploitation and Terry Orchard, one of the members, whom he finds along with her aggressive boyfriend, Dennis. Spenser receives a 2 a.m. call and finds Terry drugged. Dennis dead and the evidence of a professional hit.
I've not read this book since the 1970s and it is an interesting cultural look back. I am very happy fashions have changed away from white vinyl boots and leisure suits and that technology has advanced from mimeographs and typewriters. As silly as some of the slang sounds today, at least it wasn't as profane as today's speech.
It is also interesting looking at Spenser in his later 30s. He still thought he was funnier than anyone else did. This is a pre-Hawk, pre-Susan Spencer. As annoying as Susan can be, the one thing she did bring to the series was Spenser's monogamy.
What hasn't changed is Spenser's doggedness, determination to see the case through, dedication to the innocent and his cooking. I am always amazed that he has just the right ingredients in his kitchen to make a wonderful meal.
What Parker did extremely well was description, dialogue and plot. With a very few words, you knew where you were and the other characters in the scene. He often employed analogies''The wet wool smelled like a grammar room coatroom.''which put you right into his scene. His dialogue, even with the slang of the period, was always tight, crisp and real. As to plot, the story started a bit light and annoying. However, once it took hold, it hit its stride and I was completely engrossed.
Re-reading this very first book makes it clear as to why I have read every other book Parker wrote.
THE GODWULF MANUSCRIPT (PI-Spenser-Boston-Cont/1973) ' VG
Parker, Robert B. ' 1st of series
A Dell Book, ©1973, US Paperback ' ISBN: 04401129613