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Publisher's Summary

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 surprised 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.

Crack another case with Spenser.
©1992 Robert B. Parker (P)2009 Random House

Critic Reviews

>"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    212
  • 4 Stars
    233
  • 3 Stars
    140
  • 2 Stars
    37
  • 1 Stars
    26

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    178
  • 4 Stars
    146
  • 3 Stars
    79
  • 2 Stars
    41
  • 1 Stars
    24

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    183
  • 4 Stars
    158
  • 3 Stars
    90
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    11
Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • William
  • Columbia, Seychelles
  • 03-31-10

Good start to a great series!

I've gone years without attempting the Spenser series. I decided to take up the task of trying to read all the books in the series in order. This book is a great start. Without spoiling anything, you get a sense of Spenser's humor while getting a great mini mystery. Yes the book is unabridged and great for a quick trip but the reader is wear it counts. At first his narration comes off as dull but you start to enjoy his interpretation of the character. The story is nothing revolutionary but the plus side is that you can tell Parker respects the likes of Chandler, Hammett etc...which adds to the feel of the novel.

Overall the book is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Not the best, not the worst. If you're a completest like me then read it, if not still read it because it's the introduction of Spenser who is one of the greats in detective fiction.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The First Spenser Novel: Still One of the Best.

Spenser's on campus in 1973 when one investigation leads to his being involved in a bogus murder charge against a coed as her only advocate and protector. The introductory novel of the series was a breath of fresh air at the time, and this one stands up as an excellent example of Spenser's best. It's also the one pre Susan Spenser novel and that alone would elevate it. This one however stands on it's own; the portrait of Terri's wealthy parents is the snapshot of the era. As are the professor and Terri's wannabe badass boyfriend. It's not a Spenser that's recognizable to those more familiar with his later works socially as he has sex with a mother and daughter in less than 24 hours. Iris Milford is another great character and it's interesting to watch Spenser and Quirk stand toe-to-toe ready to go. Even with a subpar narrator this one is a five star listen.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Carol
  • Massachusetts
  • 07-06-12

Trip Down Memory Lane

Ahh, 1973. The good old days BC (before cell phones), when the left-wingers and not the right-wingers were the ones calling for the overthrow of the government, and ostentatious consumerism was still considered tacky. A college secretary wears a purple suede garment that Spenser notes is "too short to be a skirt and too long to be a belt." She has paired it with a shiny red shirt with wide lapels. I think I may have owned both those items once upon a time, although if I ever wore them together I've repressed the occasion.

In this First Chronicle of Spenser, the erudite but self-educated boxer-turned-cop-turned-tough-PI takes on effete academia at the height of the hell-no-we-won't-go era. I enjoyed it, but it really is a period piece. I found it interesting to compare "Godwulf" with later Spenser books in which college administrations play a significant role--"Playmates," "Hush Money," and "Small Vices" come immediately to mind, and I think there are others. Perhaps there's a thesis here: "The Evolution of the University in the Spenser Novels."

Ave atque Vale, Robert B. Parker!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cathleen
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 06-07-11

Totally Retro Read

Honestly, this is NOT great literature, and the setting is SO burned into the late sixties (pre-women's lib, post sexual revolution, mid-hippies) that I felt like I was in a time machine. But it is entertaining and archetypical private eye mystery material. Spenser is sensitive but macho, sexy but uninvolved, Scotch-drinking but health-conscious -- how can you not love this little bite of a book? Readers under 30 may not know what the heck is going on, but I enjoyed it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Starting at the beginning

Although I prefer Joe Mantegna's speaking voice for Spenser novels, this performer did an excellent job and I wasn't disappointed at all. I've read or listened to all the Spenser novels except the first 7, so by starting with the first Spenser novel, I thought I'd gain some "insight" into the characters. It's one thing to know Susan is his main squeeze, it's another to figure out how they became a couple. Overall, good listening and a wonderful beginning.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 07-20-13

Very enjoyable. I like the author’s wit.

This is the first book in the Spenser series: a private eye mystery. Nothing unusual about the plot or method of solving the mystery, and some of the motivations and events might be a little weak. But I’m really enjoying the series. He makes me laugh at unexpected times. It’s not a lot of laughs - maybe once every other chapter. But it’s rare for an author to get a laugh out of me. So it’s worth it.

The narrator Michael Prichard was very good.

Genre: PI mystery

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Michael
  • Wadsworth, OH, United States
  • 04-21-11

Not a bad start to a series

I'm a big fan of Parker's "Jesse Stone" series, but I'd never listened to any of the Spenser books, so when I saw this one in the $4.95 sale I decided to give it a try. It was ok, I didn't struggle through it or anything, but it was a very basic detective story. I didn't like the reader, and it took me awhile to get used to him, but I eventually did. Can't really recommend this book, as I didn't like it that much, but I can't really knock it either as it was an ok listen. If you like basic detective stories, or you want to start the Spenser books from the beginning then this book isn't too bad a choice.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Old style detective novel

Best I’ve heard in a long long time.
Plenty of old fashioned, straight forward
Uncomplicated sex and violence
Good guys are good, bad guys are bad.
Hurray for Mr Parker

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

always with the snappy dialogue

loved the book and it was read extremely well. Admittedly a huge Parker fan. Had the pleasure of meeting him. Not so much a fan of those who try to mimic his writing since his death.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Not What I expected

I had head of the Spencer novels by way of a radio show I listen to. I was not expecting the gritty story telling surrounding a quick witted detective. This story was fantastic!. The actor narrating does a great job giving that noir feel. I am now a Spencer fan and love that I have such a long backlog.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Maxine
  • 06-17-10

A no-nonsense read.

Fast paced, no nonsense, tightly written and witty. More gritty than the series Spenser for Hire which was based on this character and which I can remember watching when I was young. The TV series, with Robert Urich, was as much for the gals as for the guys but I would say this book would appeal more to the male reader.

I enjoyed it though and if you do, there are so many more in the series to chose from...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful