Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker

Good stories don't get dated, but sometimes the details in them do.

I had forgotten about those fancy half boots men used to wear instead of dress shoes.  They came up just over the ankle.  Several people in this story wear them.  A couple tough-guys wore the kind with gold buckles.

There are no cell phones, no computers, and there are several other differences since this book is set in 1973.

But Spenser's adventure is firmly set in Boston, complete with a MapQuest-like accuracy to the description of the streets Spenser takes to get from one place to another.

And the climax occurs in one of the most elegant and famous buildings in Boston.

I hardly have to say that this is a good book.  Many who grew up on mystery stories have read it.  They know Spenser, Martin Quirk and Sergeant Belson, the two ongoing cops in the Spenser series.

Most readers also know the outline of the story, Spenser's quest to locate a stolen illuminated manuscript and how that leads him to defend a college girl framed for murder.

Spenser is the knight in arms, the only one who really cares for her. Even her parents relate to her to achieve their own purposes, and the police (except for Quirk) are perfectly willing to frame her.

The Quirk-Spenser relationship (where Spenser sometimes helps Quirk solve a crime Quirk's superiors have ordered him to ignore) begins here.

Spenser is not willing to see Terry Orchard framed for murder. He works with Quirk to undermine authorities who just want her put in jail to cover up the real crime.  Spenser almost dies trying to help Terry.  

The other major characters will come later (Susan and Hawk),  but this is an auspicious beginning, the start of one of the longest and greatest of the many great PI series.  I enjoyed reading it again.

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