Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Review of The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert Parker (1974, Houghton Mifflin)
First published in 1973, The Godwulf Manuscript is the first in the Spenser series that had reached book #40 by the time of Parker’s death in 2010 and also spawned a hit TV show and some TV movies. Spenser, as introduced in the book, continues the hardboiled, American PI tradition of the wise-cracking, womanising, tough guy investigator, which is perhaps no surprise given Parker’s own interests in the private-eyes of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald, on which he wrote his PhD dissertation. While the theft of a medieval manuscript sounds like a relatively sedate case for a tough guy PI the tale soon shifts focus as Spenser tries to free a student framed for murder and tangles with both cops and the mob. Never short of a wise-crack, Spenser manages to rub up the wrong way just about everyone he meets and progresses from one scrape to the next in the pursuit of justice. A good example of oeuvre, tightly written and rattling along at a fair clip, the book is an entertaining read that will appeal to fans of hardboiled PI tales.