Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Godwulf Manuscript (Spenser, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Godwulf Manuscript

(Spenser #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  14,544 ratings  ·  847 reviews
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
...more
Hardcover, 186 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Buccaneer Books (first published June 1973)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Godwulf Manuscript, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Harvey J Putterbaugh JD Robb (Nora Roberts) - "In Death" series - LT Eve Dallas
. Shares the repartee and cynicism, the crimes are well constructed and reported. Although…more
JD Robb (Nora Roberts) - "In Death" series - LT Eve Dallas
. Shares the repartee and cynicism, the crimes are well constructed and reported. Although set in 2060~ there is little futuristic components - there are off-planet populated "stations, moon" and like Star Trek, it doesn't get in the way, as it is set in a somewhat similar New York City. They are police stories.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  14,544 ratings  ·  847 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Bill  Kerwin
May 14, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I hear this Ace Atkinson guy is good, but I can't bring myself to read a new Spenser now that Parker has died. Instead, I've decided to re-read the first dozen or so Spensers until gal-pal Susan starts annoying me again.

In this first mystery, Spenser is hired to find a medieval manuscript stolen from a university. Soon manuscript retrieval takes a back seat when one of the undergraduate radicals suspected of the theft is charged with murdering her boyfriend, and Spenser is convinced she has been
...more
Kemper
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Robert B. Parker’s The Professional last month and wrote a long review trashing him for ruining Spenser in the last half of his career. Parker died this week, and I feel like a jackass. He had provided me a lot of enjoyment over the years and had a lot to do with turning me into the crime-mystery fan I am today.

Plus, while reading the obits his death, and the high praise that was heaped on him by modern mystery writers for reviving the detective genre in the early ‘70, I remembered why I
...more
James Thane
"The office of the university president looked like the front parlor of a successful Victorian whorehouse."

Thus opens the novel that introduced Robert B. Parker's most famous creation, Boston P.I., Spenser. Spenser was a former cop who'd been fired for insubordination, and he was also a veteran of the Korean War. When The Godwulf Manuscript was published in 1973, he was apparently somewhere in his middle forties, which means that when Parker wrote his last contribution to the series in 2011, Spe
...more
carol.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Spenser
Shelves: male-lead, mystery
Ah, the first Spenser mystery, the one to start a series of almost forty books in forty years. Having started it somewhat in the middle, I went back to the beginning to see where it all began. I found writing that appealed even more than mid-series when Parker had distilled his writing down to the bare bones. Though I'm a fan for the art of minimizing in my physical life, there's something to be said for richness in mood and setting, particularly in a mystery, and this supplies it in spades. It ...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Godwulf Manuscript has gone missing from the university and Spenser's been hired to find it. But what does the stolen and ransomed manuscript have to do with the murder of a dope dealer, seemingly by his girlfriend? And can Spenser figure out what is going on before being murdered himself?

This is the first Spenser book and quite a good read. While the story is called the Godwulf Manuscript, the aforementioned manuscript doesn't actually get that much action and is phased out pretty early. Th
...more
Jason Koivu
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective, crime, fiction
Robert B. Parker's Spenser detective series kicks off very academically, literally. A valuable manuscript goes missing from a Boston university and Parker's hero Spenser is called in to investigate.

This gives Parker a chance to poke fun at stuffy academic types, while showing that Spenser isn't a total meathead himself. However, Spenser is a tough guy and when things get rough Spenser gets tough.

Things do get rough. The stolen manuscript turns into a bigger issue that Parker unfolds at a nice p
...more
Jim
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent novel by Parker. Spenser (spelled like the poet, with an 's', not a 'c') is a tough, noir detective. The plot had me guessing a fair amount & it was very well paced. Loved the ending. Well read, too. I'll look forward to more of these.
Patrick Sherriff
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-and-such
I picked this up at a secondhand bookshop last month and at first thought I'd stumbled onto a poor imitation of Raymond Chandler, complete with a bourbon-soaked wise-ass PI, dames in distress, and .45s singing like Philip Marlowe was alive and well. How derivative, my snooty wise-ass reviewer's voice began... but don't listen to him. What we have here is a loving homage to Chandler's creation. If you like hardboiled PIs for hire and you've read all Chandler published, why wouldn't you want to se ...more
Carol
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, series

The Hook - I’m a Robert Parker/Spencer virgin. Ace Atkins, who is the new voice of Spencer, was in my neck of the woods doing an author talk so I decided to begin the series at book one.

The Line”Insubordination. It’s one of my best things.”

The Sinker – This guy’s tough, one I’d call Mr. Spencer if I knew what was good for me. 195 lbs. coming at you with a power-horse of muscle and one whole lot of smart talk to go along with it. On top of this he cooks, delicious offerings, some gourmet, fast
...more
Eric
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction
Robert Parker is yet another author who I went about reading backwards, starting with his Everett Hitch & Virgil Cole westerns (which are awesome, by the way) instead of with Spenser, the detective that made him famous.

What actually drew me to read this book at this point in time was a review from Orson Scott Card recommending the latest Elvis Cole novel by Robert Crais -- a series and author I'd never read -- that also mentioned Parker and his detective Spenser. So I decided to read the bot
...more
Melissa
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ah-deadly
Spenser is officially my new favorite guy. He has everything I'm looking for in a private detective. He takes guff from no police lieutenant: "Quirk looked at me, then Belson . . . 'You're not working for the D.A. now, boy, you're working my side of the street, and if you get in the way I'll kick your ass right into the gutter. Got that?' 'Can I feel your muscle?' I said."

He's so tough he considers his bourbon cut with the addition of bitters or ice (I myself need a little water or, heaven forb
...more
Marty Fried
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, mystery
I've heard of this series in the past, and thought it might be interesting to check it out. It's a bit old, but only a little dated which might be a minus for younger readers as there are some references that might be missed. No problem for me, of course.

It was a fairly fun read, very quick, and I was finished before I knew it. He's definitely a wise guy, but then again, so am I, so it was OK. I'll try to remember some of his quips. Like, "I made a bet with myself that ..., and I won."

He's a bit
...more
Tim
"The office of the university president looked like the front parlor of a successful Victorian whorehouse."

That is one hell of a line to start your book off. It certainly sets a tone for our narrator, doesn't it?

Let's start off with a little background... not on the book, but on me. A week or so back I started reading the first of Parker’s Jesse Stone novels, and the reaction from a few of my friends was along the lines of “Why are you reading this when you haven’t read any of the Spencer novels
...more
Cathy DuPont
Oct 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really liked...first of Spenser novels. Curious though because Parker said in interview(s) later that he didn't create first name for Spenser. However, on page 87 of paperback, Spenser (as I read it) is called Jim by two cops escorting him from campus. Only reference to Spenser's first name. Perhaps Parker forgot that couple of paragraphs as years and books went by? Anyone else notice that?

***************

Well, well, well. Before I started reading the Jim Spenser (sounds funny) and Hawk series,
...more
Nate
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very, very impressed with this first Spenser book. My dad is a huge fan of Parker’s so I don’t know why I slept on this series for so long. I think I kind of wrote his stuff off after having to sit through the TV show as a kid, but I really enjoyed myself with this one. Spenser is super likable, tough as nails but still obviously a good guy and legitimately funny. A lot of characters in books I read come off as less funny than their authors seem to want them to be (as much as I like him, E ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Well, I don't guess I'll be reading another Spencer book soon...but to be fair it may not be all "the book's" fault.

First I lived through the '70s and don't long for more of the shaggy clothed, self-righteous pan handlers who lived on their parent's income while cutting down the life style of people who are/were stupid enough to work for a living. I graduated in that generation and never quite fit in. I was too busy working.

Silly me.

Okay so Spencer doesn't suffer these fools gladly in this book
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Dec 02, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hard-boiled Mystery Fans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
I didn't like Spenser, and that's a problem with a novel starting a series, one in a first person voice where Spenser is supposed to be your intimate guide into the story. If you don't like your narrator and protagonist, then you're going to need a really strong voice or plot or style or characterizations, and I didn't find that the case here.

I did rather enjoy the story in the beginning--it was published in 1973 and reading about the campus radicals, the hippies, the days where you called cops
...more
LJ
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
...more
Carmen
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rhonda
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been curious about the Spenser series for a long, long time. I wish I hadn't waited so long to read one. I really liked it. It's set in the 1970's. I smiled a lot at the descriptions of the clothes worn by college students and the dialogue, man! Everyone is "man." Lots of action, a tiny bit of very modestly described sex (which is good by me as I don't like too much sex in books). The plot was compelling and I loved Spenser. I will certainly continue the series and I won't be waiting long t ...more
Meg
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a PI seems to have been far more work before cellphones and the internet. This 70s PI series has been on my TBR list forever and I’m pleased it kicked off well. Story was good and suitably gritty, lead character was entertaining and has aged reasonably well (a couple of books from the same era haven’t appealed because the lead characters have a sexist dickhead vibe when read now).

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to the rest of the series, and am particularly keen on seeing Ace
...more
Doranna Durgin
Jan 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ahh, the first Spenser book. Heavily dated, but not in a way that affects the story; for me, it added to the story. And no one does dry dialogue like Robert Parker with Spenser!
Mira
Mar 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Be warned: I am about to spoil the shit out of this book, so don’t read on if you’re not up for it.

The Godwulf Manuscript gets going when the president of a university in Boston — unnamed, but from context it’s probably BU — calls in private detective Spenser. A fourteenth-century illuminated manuscript has disappeared, and an anonymous caller has demanded $100,000 in ransom. This is a total giveaway — if “the university” were Harvard they’d fish the money out of their couch cushions and the boo
...more
Jen
Jan 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spenser is hired by a Boston University to recover an ancient manuscript, the Godwulf Manuscript, that was stolen and ransomed. In the process of locating this manuscript, people start dying, and a young woman is set up to take the fall for at least one of these murders. The young woman's parents also hire Spenser to clear her of the murder charges.

I LOVED this novel. I love the plot, which was complex but didn't vear off into unnecessary subplots. I loved the dialogue. Spenser's wit is hysteric
...more
Mur Lafferty
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hey cookie, hey lovely, your thighs are lush, let me sleep with you, or maybe your daughter, but I'll be a gentleman and wait till NEXT chapter to plow her field. what, there's a macguffin that's missing? Let me insult everyone who could aid me and sleep with a few dames and I'll get it sorted out before the next broad spreads her legs for my incomprehensible sex appeal.

No, I didn't like it.
Chrisl
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970s, mys-pi, new-england
Parker's Spenser provided so many hours of enjoyable reading.
Didn't read this one first.
Would re-read it first.
Deserves 5-star for beginning an exceptional series
Fair to call it a classic?
Bill Lynas
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Private Eye Spenser makes his first appearance in this witty thriller from Robert B Parker. The story was written (& is set in) the early 1970s & world weary Parker speaks his mind at every opportunity. This allows for some sharp & highly amusing dialogue throughout the story. This may be the first Spenser novel I've read, but it won't be the last.
Bill
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-us, detective
Robert B. Parker is one of those mystery writers that I had never thought I'd read. Not for any particular reason, I don't think. Then a few years back, my wife and I watched a few of the Jesse Stone movies starring Tom Selleck and I discovered that there were a series of books by Parker on which the movies were based. I started collecting the books but have yet tried the first. I also discovered that he wrote a series on which a successful TV series was based, that being the Spenser series. I b ...more
Amy
Oct 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, mystery
This is the very first Spenser novel ever, and now, having read it, I can't remember for the life of me why I avoided it for so long; something about the word 'Godwulf' I found off-putting, because the end seems a lot like "awful" which, in retrospect, seems stupid.

Spenser himself is not quite fully the Spenser he is in later books - he doesn't always remember where his quotations came from, and, in a truly shocking twist, he gets winded from climbing 4 flights of stairs; but it's nice to see th
...more
Brent Soderstrum
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have decided to read all of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels (and probably the Ace Atkins ones too). So I started with this one which is his first. Spenser is a smart ass detective from Boston. He is hired by the University to find the Godwulf Manuscript which has been stolen and is being held hostage, so to speak. Spenser walks into a murder when he goes to investigate a left wing college girl who might be involved. She is standing over her dead boyfriend with a gun. Spenser is also hired by ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
New Spenser Stories 37 81 Nov 02, 2014 09:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Trouble in Triplicate (Nero Wolfe, #14)
  • Robert B. Parker's Lullaby (Spenser, #40)
  • Poodle Springs (Philip Marlowe, #8)
  • Free Fall in Crimson (Travis McGee #19)
  • The Moving Target (Lew Archer #1)
  • In the Midst of Death (Matthew Scudder, #3)
  • Two Down (Crossword Mysteries, #2)
  • 2 in the Hat
  • The Man With The Getaway Face (Parker, #2)
  • Indigo Slam (Elvis Cole, #7)
See similar books…
1,578 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database named Robert B. Parker.
Robert Brown Parker was an American crime writer. His most famous works were the novels about the private detective Spenser. ABC television network developed the television series Spenser: For Hire based on the character in the late 1980s; a series of TV movies based on the character were also produced.
...more

Other books in the series

Spenser (1 - 10 of 47 books)
  • God Save The Child (Spenser, #2)
  • Mortal Stakes (Spenser, #3)
  • Promised Land (Spenser, #4)
  • The Judas Goat (Spenser, #5)
  • Looking For Rachel Wallace (Spenser, #6)
  • Early Autumn (Spenser, #7)
  • A Savage Place (Spenser, #8)
  • Ceremony (Spenser, #9)
  • The Widening Gyre (Spenser, #10)
  • Valediction (Spenser, #11)
“Halfway through my steak I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. I looked like someone who ought to eat alone. I didn't look in the mirror again.” 8 likes
“It was a bright day, but cold, and the whores had emerged, working the Combat Zone, looking cold and bizarre in their miniskirts, boots, and blond wigs. Being seductive at twenty degrees was heavy going, I thought. Being horny at twenty degrees wasn’t all that easy either.” 1 likes
More quotes…