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 book would be done here. They don’t and it’s not.
In the initial interview with Spenser, the president indicates that a far-left student organization, SCACE, is at the top of his suspect list. I should note that he’s fingering the group for precisely no reason. He literally says “it’s a gut guess,” I guess because they’re a bunch of hippies? No worries, it turns out that he is totally right to finger this group for precisely no reason. Onward!
Anyway, Spenser goes to investigate, and the first person he talks to is Terry Orchard. Terry is a girl born into privilege who has gone anti-establishment during her college years and is, at twenty, the secretary of SCACE. He takes her to a local pub for a beer to ask her about the manuscript, and about a minute into their conversation her boyfriend shows up and Spenser punches him in the face. Then he leaves without getting any answers from Terry or Dennis.So, naturally, when a couple of hoodlums break into Terry and Dennis’s apartment, shoot Dennis dead, and dope Terry unto incoherency, her last lucid thought is “must … call … that … guy … I met … that one time ….” Thank goodness she knows one person who she can count on as a true friend in this world! Spenser to the rescue!
The book goes on in this vein. Spenser is a badass and smarter and better than everyone, and whenever it looks like he might run into a dead end, someone will call him out of nowhere and give him a new lead. Oh, and in case you were in suspense, yes, he does sleep with the twenty-year-old Terry. I bet you were worried that might not happen! Rest easy, my friend. It does. Oh, and you’ll be relieved to know that he sleeps with her mother, too. He spaces them less than 24 hours apart. Don’t worry, though, he’s a total gentleman. I mean, both of those ladies came on to him. Saying no would have been plain uncivilized.The book ends “happily.” Terry remembers where she came from and gets back on the right track — you can tell because she starts wearing makeup and ditches her faded Levi jacket for a dapple gray suede coat with white fur trim. I am not remotely kidding. The unhinged cowardly hippie professor is safely behind bars, thank God. And Spenser gets to bang the university president’s secretary.
Oh, the manuscript, you ask? That got returned 75 pages ago. Did you think that was what the book was actually about? Hahahahahahaha sucker!
Read more from Aunt Ada Doom at Two Wrongs and a Write.