Brad's Reviews > The Fifth Woman

The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell
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Aug 02, 12

bookshelves: forty-for-2012-personal-challenge, mystery, serial-killer, swedish-lit, wallander
Read from July 29 to August 01, 2012, read count: 1

There was a point in The Fifth Woman where I thought, "Christ, Wallander is getting preachy. I wonder if Mankell realizes it?" And then a couple of chapters later it came clear that Mankell did realize what was happening to his Ystad Detective because those closest to Wallander comment on his fondness for lecturing everyone around him about the ills of Sweden and his philosophy of police work. They then prod him to become a lecturer at the local police academy.

A literary snap of the fingers and Mankell makes this new trait of Wallander an acceptable part of his character. At least for me.

As for the rest of the book, it's not the strongest in the series, but it is still a page turner. I powered on late into the night to finish, and it was definitely full of suspence. Wallander himself remains one of my favourite literary detectives. I admire his doggedness, but I love him because of his emotion. He feels, sometimes too intensely to be healthy, but he feels everything, and it dooms him to loneliness. He cannot express his emotions, you see, and so he buries them and works. Works. Works. Works. I find myself caring more about him the longer the series goes on and wanting something good for him in his life. I don't think he's going to get it.

If you're new to Wallander, don't start here because he's changing, and you need to know him before to enjoy the changes. But you should enjoy this book just fine when you reach it.

later: I hadn't seen the sixth episode of the BBC Wallander until last night; I'd been saving it after I finished the book. Since I finished it yesterday I thought I should give it a watch, and it is the first time I was disappointed.

Both the mystery and the emotional core of Kurt Wallander were too distant from Mankell's book. Kurt, in the book, begins to resolve his relationship with his father, taking a week long vacation with his father in Rome, so when his father passes away there is no deep pool of despair for Kurt to dive into. But he dives intot that pool in the book, wandering around like a Basset Hound who can't find his owner.

The mystery gets short shrift too because of Wallander's whiny broodiness. We get none of the killer's POV, which offered some interesting moments in the book. We get too little of the crimes of the abusive men, the victims of the killer, and the crimes we do get are altered in ways that lessen their severity and make the men much easier to feel sorry for.

These aren't the only changes either. Anna-Britt isn't shot, it's Kurt who takes the bullet. Baiba isn't the one Kurt loves, it is a witness for the case named Vanja. His relationship with Linda is short changed. It's just plain bad.

I have serious concerns about this show going forward, and I am bummed because I was looking forward to series 3 becoming available in North America. Huge bummer for me.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie I've had my eye on the Wallander TV series and wondered if I ought to tackle it. I'm already hooked on so many others I might have to quit the idiot box cold turkey. But that's the problem - there is so much on the box now that is not "idiot". I'm hooked on The Wire, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Louie...


Brad We gave up TV-proper two weeks ago (maybe not that long. It feels that long), but Wallander was okay cause I bought the DVD last year. I'd just saved the last episode until I could get to this book. The first five were excellent and the changes didn't bother me at all. I think my frustration was that I watched the show too close to finishing the book. You should be fine, Bonnie. And Kenneth Branagh's never been better.


Kelly H. (Maybedog) I love Branagh. So tell me why I should start reading this series. I'm not sold yet. You've only given the first one and this one 3 stars.


Brad Ummm ... cause they're quick reads?!


Kelly H. (Maybedog) But I have over 1200 books on my to-read list and that doesn't count sequels in the series that I love. Even at a book a day, that's three and a half years. I think I need to weed it again. If I could spend 24 hours a day reading... Well life would actually be quite lonely and boring. But I do wish for more reading time.


message 6: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Thornton Watch the original Swedish series with subtitles, rather than the Branagh version....


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