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Mankell, Henning - 'The Fifth Woman' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Sean Barrett (translated by Steven T Murray)
Audio Cassette (2004) Publisher: Isis Audio Books ISBN: 0753123673

THE FIFTH WOMAN is the sixth book in the Kurt Wallander series and the fourth to be translated from Swedish and published by Harvill Press. It was written in 1996 and brought out in English in 2000 with the audio version in 2004.

Chief Inspector Wallander of the Ystad police is middle aged, divorced with a grown-up daughter called Linda. Wallander's father is on his way to senile dementia and so they take a long wanted holiday in Rome together. On their return Wallander is thrown into another gruesome serial killer case. Elderly men are being killed in horrific ways and seemingly there is no motive for anyone to kill them, until the police discover a link. All the men have been known to be cruel and/or violent to the women in their lives. At first the police believe the killings are the work of a man as a lot of strength is required for the manner of killings used, however Wallander becomes convinced that a woman is involved.

Meanwhile, the reader knows more than the police as some chapters are from the killer's point of view, though their identity and motivation is kept cloudy until the end.

The case is solved by 'dogged policework' in following up all leads and assisted slightly by a touch of coincidence in that a witness is a cousin of one of the police detectives. As well as the case, Wallander has to deal with a growth in militia groups and sadly, the death of his father.

It's a long book and as a realistic picture of a police investigation, the team come across dead ends and there is some repetition of the facts, nonetheless it is a gripping story and a fascinating look at life in Sweden. There is a grim tone to the book which is enhanced by the time of year. It's autumn, it rains almost constantly, it's cold, there's occasional thick fog and of course many hours of darkness. An easy listen made possible by what appears to be an invisible translation by Steven T Murray.

The narration is of a high standard. There is a large cast of detectives, mostly male, and some of the voices were more distinctive than others, but Sean Barrett's Kurt Wallander is perfect with a brisk clipped non-nonsense tone and I'm eager to listen to more of his Wallander narrations.

Read another review of THE FIFTH WOMAN.

Karen Meek, England
January 2006

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 18/04/2010 10:52