The Godwulf Manuscript - Robert B. Parker Audible is doing a great service by issuing many of the original Spenser novels in audiobook form and read by one of my favorite readers: Michael Pritchard, who also does the Rex Stout mysteries. The Godwulf Manuscript is apparently the first Spenser novel (you know, spelled as in the poet.)

Some folks credit Parker with development of the wise-cracking detective. I would beg to differ. As a devoted fan of Rex Stout, I saw so many shades of Archie in Spenser, except for the rough play. This Spenser is more interesting than the later one, when he is involved with Susan and tries so hard to be psychologically and politically correct. It's before he meets Hawk, also. I'll gradually work my way through the entire series, being less haphazard than in the past.

I don't mind violence nor anything prurient, but it does seem to me that I prefer novels where the detectives remain within legal parameters and use their wits more than their fists. There is something subversive that conveys a message, which says the only way to right a wrong is by going outside the law. Clever is always preferable to bludgeoning. What saves Godwulf is the clever language and ripostes.

His western series (I have read Appaloosa) and Jesse Stone are also excellnt.

Pritchard is sooo much better as a reader than Ellitt Gould or Joe Mantegna. Avoid the latter two.