A series of men who seem to have nothing in common are brutally killed--one is impaled, another starved and then strangled. We know more than the police--we know that the killer is a woman and we gradually understand some of her motivation; her much wronged mother was murdered almost by chance in a North African country--but we don't know who she is, or, for a while at least, her motives and principles of selection of her victims. Inspector Wallender finds himself investigating the case--two missing person enquiries that turn into a murder hunt--and finds himself endlessly confused by red herrings and side issues; a set of leads concerning mercenaries in the Congo of the 1960s turn out to have little to do with the case and Wallender has to waste considerable time suppressing an attempt by the far Right to turn the murders into a reason to set up vigilante justice.The Fifth Woman
is a stylish police procedural which lets us see not only the leg work of investigation but also the diligence which makes effective murder possible--the killer Wallender is trying to catch is at least as good at her job of murder as he is at his of prevention. --Roz Kaveney
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
At the start of this Swedish version of the station-house police procedural, set in the Sk?ne district in the south of Sweden, Det. Kurt Wallander, who has just returned from an idyllic vacation in Rome, joins the hunt for the missing Holger Eriksson, an elderly poet. Finding the man's corpse in a ditch, impaled on sharpened bamboo stakes, brings Wallander back abruptly to the realities of crime in modern Sweden. While Wallander and his colleagues investigate the murder, another man is found dead in the local woods, making it clear that they have a brutal serial killer on their hands. The killer plans each murder carefully to ensure that the victim suffers for several days before dying. Who could hate these innocent-seeming men so much as to want to torture them to death? The police detectives must delve deeply into the victims' lives to find out what links them together and what might have made them a deadly enemy. Mankell takes the reader slowly and meticulously through the long investigation's progress, including frequent reversals. The policemen are constantly overworked and exhausted, but they make acute deductions and chase down every lead relentlessly. Mankell is a talented writer, and the translation by Steven Murray is graceful and colloquial, but the narrative is so bleak and brooding that it certainly qualifies as the darkest of Swedish noir. (Aug.)
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.