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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fifth Woman is First Class
Kurt Wallender, a Swedish detective, is faced with a race to find a serial killer before he or she strikes again. The first grisly murder is an elderly birdwatcher found impaled on bamboo sticks in a tiger pit, but for those of a sensitive disposition, the subsequent murders are not so gruesome.
We know the identity of the killer from the beginning but can Wallender...
Published on 8 Dec 2002 by MRS C E DREWETT

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15 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kurt Plods After Another Serial Killer
This is the sixth book in the Wallander series, and probably the last I'll read for quite a while. The series started out promisingly enough with Faceless Killers, an interesting police procedural plot introducing the reader to the ever-forlorn Wallander and his southern Swedish district. However, subsequent books have strayed into over-the-top thriller areas, including...
Published on 24 Aug 2005 by A. Ross


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fifth Woman is First Class, 8 Dec 2002
By 
MRS C E DREWETT (Croydon, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Kurt Wallender, a Swedish detective, is faced with a race to find a serial killer before he or she strikes again. The first grisly murder is an elderly birdwatcher found impaled on bamboo sticks in a tiger pit, but for those of a sensitive disposition, the subsequent murders are not so gruesome.
We know the identity of the killer from the beginning but can Wallender find out before more people die? This tightly plotted novel shows the utter weariness and drudgery of the police search while keeping us gripped enough to keep turning the pages until 1am!!
Wallender's love life is on the back burner in this novel, but the death of his father provides the emotional subtheme. For those who aren't yet Wallender fans, you soon will be and for those coming back for more - you won't be disappointed, this is the best one yet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These books are now like an old friend, 23 Aug 2007
By 
Scully Bloke (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Firstly I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Its the 6th Kurt Wallender book and all of them have been very enjoyable. This one especially so.

It is best to read the books in sequence (see the previous review). That way you get to understand the mind of Wallender, why things get him down, weary, his thoughts on colleagues and friends. It also helps you realise why in this story Wallender at times becomes angry, stubborn and annoyed at vigilante groups springing up around the Ystad area.

I now consider these books like an old friend. You look forwad to seeing them, miss them when you are not reading them, like them even though the characters have their own flaws.

If you like an extremely well written police mystery then these books are for you.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very existential, very Swedish, very, very good, 29 Sep 2001
By 
Dr. Sn Cottam "Steve the medic" (Preston, England) - See all my reviews
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The human, all too human, Inspector Kurt Wallander is thrown up against personal and professional challenges in this worthy addition to a sucessful series.
In the bleakness of a Skane autumn, beautifully evoked, a serial killer is murdering men with the utmost barbarity. Wallander and his team investigate against the backdrop of a changing Sweden where the old certanties and social cohesion have gone and an unsure future awaits. In addition Wallander faces the uncertainties and decisions of his own life. Mankell has created a post-modern investigator who in addition to solving a brutal series of killings and prevent more deaths, must also confront his own existential problems.
The story-telling is effective, the plot tight, the round of police investigation (99 % hard routine work, 1 % brilliant deduction) is superby recreated. Very effective, very existential, very Swedish and very very good. Highly recommended
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent detective and well marked trail of detection, 24 Feb 2004
By 
Huck Flynn "huckleberry" (northern ireland) - See all my reviews
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What a refreshing change to find a real person in charge of an investigation rather than the larger than life comic book creations too common in the staple American detective fiction. As plots go, Mankell's "Fifth Woman" is far fetched but what makes it so absorbing and believeable is the painstaking procedural plodding by Inspector Wallender's team. It builds up an incredible mountain of forensic and circumstantial evidence, dead ends and red herrings which for a long time seem to lead nowhere. To a certain extent the reader is a step ahead, seeing also from the killer's perspective, so part of the book's fascination is the tension we feel when the clues become tantalisingly close to revealing the identity. Kurt Wallender is certainly an engaging and sympathetic character whose intuitive leaps are generally credible because he also gets his hands dirty, makes mistakes and shows real human frailties. The book is relentlessly paced and indeed hard to put down at times. "Sidetracked" and "One Step behind" are equally good in the series, "Faceless Killers" a bit below par, and avoid "Dogs of Riga" which is more a far fetched spy thriller.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Fab!, 2 Mar 2003
By A Customer
The book was just absolutely fab. While a friend just bought the book a few weeks ago, we've both read it and managed to lose at least one night's sleep. It was so gripping that, as we neared the end, we just had to finish it. It's not the kind of "who done it?" suspense that keeps you going but the writing and the fact that you really want the crime to be over as you empathise for the exhausted Wallander. The focus of story is the crime and Mankell is so skillful a writer (and fair dues to Steven T. Murray for translation) that personalities and context are richly provided but do not distract from the story. I was devastated when I finished the book. I've since bought all the other books that I could get and can't wait to start reading them. I just can't recommend this book enough.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Though this be madness, 20 Feb 2007
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
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yet there is method in 't." Hamlet: Act II, Scene 2.

Four nuns have been found brutally murdered in a convent in an unnamed North African country. A fifth woman has also been murdered. Although news of the murders is suppressed and the fifth woman is never publicly identified a policewoman with a conscience forwards letters found in her possession to her daughter in Sweden. Soon thereafter a series of seemingly unconnected and brutal murders grip the small, Southern-Swedish city of Ystad. The murders are well planned and executed. They seem designed to inflict as much pain as possible. Detective Inspect Kurt Wallander is tasked with identifying the killer or killers and the motive behind the killing. If Wallander cannot discover a motive he must at least learn enough about the killer's method to stop him or her before more people lay dead in strange surrounding. That is the plot of Henning Mankell's "The Fifth Woman".

"The Fifth Woman" is the sixth book in Mankell's Kurt Wallander series. This series is often compared to the Martin Beck detective mysteries authored by the husband and wife team of Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall. Wallander, like Beck, is a police detective in Sweden. Unlike Beck, whose beat was Stockholm, Wallander works in the small southern-Swedish city of Ystad. The Wallander series takes place in the 1990s while the Beck series took place in the 1960s and 1970s. Although I tend to prefer the Beck series, the Wallander books are entertaining page-turners. Mankell stays well within the `police procedural' formula and has not tried to reinvent the genre. However, he has done a good job, through the first books in the series, of developing the character of Mankell and his supporting cast of characters. Wallander is no Sherlock Holmes and gets results more by perspiration than inspiration. He is also a fully drawn character. We see him dealing with the break-up of a marriage, an estranged daughter, and a father who is developing senile dementia. The supporting characters, particularly his fellow detectives, are also well drawn.

As the plot in "The Fifth Woman" plays itself out Mankell does a good job of showing the grunt work that goes into a murder investigation. Mankell also does a good job portraying the relationship of Wallander with his fellow police officers and with his family, especially his aged and failing father. Wallander is shown as a flawed man, a man with a temper and someone who can be more than a bit stubborn. However, I found myself drawn to the character as much for his flaws as for his detective skills.

The Fifth Woman is, in my opinion, one of the better books in the Wallander series and I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone interested in a good police story, especially one set in a location outside the United States. Recommended. L. Fleisig

For those who prefer to read a detective series in chronological order this is the order of the Kurt Wallander series written by Henning Mankell. The dates listed are the dates of publication in Sweden.

Faceless Killers (1991)

The Dogs of Riga (1992)

The White Lioness (1993)

The Man Who Smiled (1994)

Sidetracked (1995)

The Fifth Woman (1996)

One Step Behind (1997)

Firewall (1998)

Before the Frost (Linda Wallander) - 2002
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing story of the hard grind of police work, 1 Jan 2010
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a very long book but the story never flags: it kept me reading late into the night to finish it. I've become a fan of Henning Mankell's Wallander books after seeing the Swedish TV series shown on BBC Four during 2009. The books are very story-driven rather than spending a lot of words describing what the characters look like or even, other than Wallander, their personalities. The descriptions of the weather, usually poor, in Skane add a sense of melancholy to the narrative. The story of The Fifth Woman follows, in what almost feels like real-time, the dogged hard-work of the police in tracking down the murderer of three men who appear to have no connection with one another and the motivation for their murders obscure. All the threads of the book are, by the end, drawn together and I was sorry that this epic journey of detection had ended. An excellent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melancholy to the Max., 9 Mar 2010
By 
We must remember this is a translation. It serves to add to the melancholy feel of what is no doubt already a pretty downbeat ride in the original Swedish! At times we doubt whether old Kurt is going to make it to the end of the book!

But it's absorbing stuff. The story builds very slowly as Wallander's various personal problems parallel the drudgery of the investigation. Then we get a genuine charge as the killer's identity starts to emerge and the chase is on. I do think the police force would have been in better communication around the time of the railway station action and I reckon Wallander would have had a lot more back-up in the tower scene at the end.

The ending is unsatisfactory really. Gunplay doesn't suit our man. We could have had a bit more explaining from the baddie too since we have spent such a long time in pursuit of her!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic and moving, 15 Jan 2003
By A Customer
Gripping detective novel - Wallander and his team as as shocked by the gruesome murders as the reader. Thorough detective work is described, no stone is left unturned and every lead followed, not just the correct ones. This is no thin plot-driven novel, though the plot is pacy. A satisfying read that kept me awake in the small hours!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite Wallander books so far, 27 Oct 2009
Henning Mankell's Kurt Wallander series quickly grows on you; its characters, their lives and their relationships quickly become incredibly familiar to you, and that familiarity is almost as important as the actual story lines. Kurt Wallander has become like comfort food to me, the sort of book to curl up with for a good few hours and simply relax. Fortunately there is a bit more to Mankell than just being comforting, and he always manages to hook you with a good story - in this case it is long, intricate and multi-layered. This is book 6, and though I think any book of the Wallander series can be picked up at any time and not necessarily in order, it definitely helps if you know a bit about his colleagues and his family before you read this one. One of my favourites.
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The Fifth Woman: Kurt Wallander
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