Top positive review
A Decent First "Spenser", Private Detective Novel... Compare And Contrast to "Indemnity Only"
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2019
"The Godwulf Manuscript" is a pretty good first novel by Robert Parker. It was published in 1973. The story is about a private detective "Spenser" and is the first of a series. The story is mainly set in Boston and the nearby area. The story is written in modern conversational English and mostly provides, what I feel is an easy reading experience. This is the second Robert Parker novel that I have read. The first being a much later, 1997, "Jesse Stone" novel. I think I liked both of these novels about the same.
The protagonist Spenser is a more or less modern version of the classic hard bitten Noir type private detective. He is described as slightly over six feet tall and 195 pounds, able to bench press 250 pounds ten times. (That represents fairly serious lifting ability.). He has some experience boxing. At the same time he is seemingly fairly well read. He also feels free to make some fairly snotty comments whenever the mood strikes him. In many ways this is a good, if typical private detective novel.
Speaking for myself, what I found most interesting about this novel is how it compares and contrasts to another first private detective novel, "Indemnity Only" by Sara Paretsky. I just happened to read these two first novels, back to back. That was more or less a complete coincidence. When I say more or less a coincidence, I mean that I am surveying various authors' first novels, including first private detective novels. As Robert Parker's novel was published earlier than Sara Paretsky's, I read Mister Parker's first. Sara Paretsky's very enjoyable first novel was published in1982.
I intend to be vague, but I intend to touch upon these two stories and one may wish to read either or both of them without reading the following paragraph...
Both of these first novels are set in large cities, Boston and Chicago. Both protagonists are somewhat hard bitten private detectives, one male and one female. Both detectives tend to be smart alecs. Both stories involve universities. Both stories include incidents wherein the detectives discuss with others, including professors, the proper use of "who" versus "whom". Both stories involve the detectives driving out of their respective cities to nearby affluent suburbs and then meeting antagonistic wealthy people. Both stories include these detectives making illegal entries into apartments and discovering similar criminal activity that I will not further describe. Both of these illegal entries are seemingly excused by the police. As a retired 39 year police officer and 31 year police detective, all of that business about private detectives taking it upon themselves to illegally break and enter lies outside of my personal experience... That absolutely includes any legal immunity... From my personal experience, all of that falls under the realm of true and complete fiction.
As a student of literature, I am uncredentialed. I have never heard anyone discuss these above two first novels as they compare to each other. As Mister Parker's was published approximately nine years prior to Sara Paretsky's, it would seem unlikely that her storyline inspired Mister Parker. Needless to say these two very good novels may just have some interesting coincidences. As of yet, despite trying, I have yet to discover that Sara Paretsky was inspired by Robert Parker.
In summary, I enjoyed this novel and reading / study experience very much,. Should one be a fan of the modern Noir type private detective, one might enjoy reading first "The Godwulf Manuscript", followed by "Indemnity Only". I liked them both. Thank You...