Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell *****

The success of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series has opened the US market for Swedish authors translated into English --- certainly an accomplishment in a such an insular and provincial market as the US. Well, Sweden has produced a number of excellent mystery/thriller authors. Consider Henning Mankell - author of the Kurt Wallander series.

Kurt is a detective is a small Swedish town (Ystad). Like many good literary detectives, he is single, persistent, and full of personal angst. I particularly like his balance between intuition and logic, and his emphasis on the team. He solves crime as much with leadership as with insight, a nice change in a genre known for individuals with a caricatured side-kick or two.

In The Fifth Woman, Kurt is after a brutal serial killer. Each murder is very different, but the killer's language of violence and cruelty ties the murders together. In spite of the torturous deaths of the victims, this is not some simple story of good versus evil. There is no black and white; both sides have a story to tell and that is what raises Henning Mankell above the crowd of mystery/thrillers writers.

If you are looking for a new series of mystery/thriller page turner, or something to make you think, this book is highly recommended.

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