The first in the series featuring private detective Spenser, sees Spenser hired to return a rare stolen fourteenth-century manuscript to its rightful owners, a Boston university who has hired him.
Spenser earned his degree in the school of hard knocks so he is hardly surprised that his only clue is a radical student with four bullets in his chest. The investigation soon leads him into a complex web of murder, radical politics, adultery, drugs and organised crime.
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.