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The Woman in the Fifth Mass Market Paperback – Dec 12 2011

4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (Dec 12 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099564874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099564874
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 2.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,838,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“Kennedy is a fantastic, feisty writer.”
–Independent on Sunday

“Kennedy knows how to keep the pages turning.”
The Times

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

Douglas Kennedy’s novels have all been highly praised bestsellers. His work has been translated into sixteen languages.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Francine on Oct. 4 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book,, engrossing from page 1.... Have read all of Douglas Kennedy's books and rate this right up at the top of a fantastic list of reads...
Buy it and read it will never regret it BUT don't be tempted to go and see the film..absolutely dreadful...don't know if Mr. Kennedy had anything to do with it but , hope not, but, even so, I would forgive him anything for this book! a 'five starer' all the way
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nan on April 2 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book started out as I expected a Douglas Kennedy book to start, but when it plunged off into another dimension with the introduction of the surreal and fantasy, it completely lost me. I did not expect this of this writer whom heretofore I considered one of the foremost writers of the day. Very disappointed.
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By rose1234 on June 10 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting. Well written and was capable of keeping my interest. I will recommend it to my friends.
Good introduction to an author that was unknown to me!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very sordid book, would not recommend it to anyone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 54 reviews
24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Gripping Tale with Unusual Ending. July 21 2007
By C. Middleton - Published on
Format: Paperback
One of the essential aspects that distinguish a great novel from a mediocre one is the `engine' that drives the reader to continue turning the pages till the last one is turned. The story begins as an interesting scenario, and from there builds momentum to the point that closing the book's covers and putting it aside till the "next time" is all but impossible. This `engine' is not only the content of the story but the author's style, his/her technical expertise to ensure the reader remains with, and is compelled to, read every word. To be certain, most if not all of Douglas Kennedy's novel's have this `engine', driving the reader forward, however, The Woman in the Fifth takes this notion further, the author using all his skill to intrigue us and entertain us but also somehow making the impossible appear absolutely probable.

Harry Ricks has hit rock bottom...or so we're led to believe until he tumbles further into the abyss. The man has fled the U.S. because of a failed marriage and a scandal at the college where he taught film studies. Harry's life is in ruins and now he is down and out living in Paris; little money, has now contracted a serious flu and doesn't know a soul. One event leads to another, and he ends up living in a very low income sector of Paris, a `chambre de bonne', later is offered a "job" as a nightwatchman, where he sits in a little second story office watching a video screen. He is instructed only to let those individuals through the door that offer a particular phrase. It is obvious that illegal activities are going on below on the first floor, but he is purposefully kept in the dark, it is said, for his own protection. Harry is payed 65 euros every morning after his shift and life carries on this way until he meets a beautiful and mysterious woman at one of Paris's famous "salons".

Magit Kadar is a Hungarian émigré, who had fled Hungary with her mother as a small child. At that time after the Second World War, Hungary was under the dictatorship of a ruthless Stalinist, (also named Kadar) where Margit's father had been lynched in front of her eyes by the secret police. Margit is on the better side of fifty, though appears younger - elegant, intelligent, sophisticated and extremely beautiful. She lives in the Fifth Adrossement in Paris - an understated and tasteful apartment, Margit instructs Harry to meet her there twice a week for only three hours as an intense affair begins.

Suddenly Harry Rick's life turns much more complicated and dangerous as his "enemies" begin to end up murdered one by one. Of course Harry is the prime suspect, but there is no substantial proof, however the circumstances of each crime point to him. Who is committing these murders and in such a horrific manner?

This is a wonderful novel because the narrative is in present time, that is, we follow and feel and sense every action, thought and move of the protagonist.

Original, well written and possesses that `engine', ensuring the reader holds fast to the book from start to finish.

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Do the means justify the end? Oct. 16 2007
By Margaret M. Bell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I am a huge fan of Douglas Kennedy. I have read all his novels, and bought them as gifts or lent them to friends in an effort to spread the word. I actually really enjoyed this book ... until the mystery was revealed. I felt that this ending was a real cop out when usually I can expect to be gobsmacked by the way this writer ties up his stories. I'll keep buying his books, but another denouement like this one would have me seriously rethinking that position.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ridiculous but parts are fun Dec 4 2011
By ehab_pen_amazon - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a real page-turner. At least parts of it are. It's well written. I liked the feel of Paris that Kennedy brings out with his writing. I liked the protagonist and identified with him and his problems. So far, so good.

But... the decisions he makes towards the beginning of the book -- which set the plot in motion -- are all unbelievably stupid. To the Kennedy's credit, he realizes this and tries to build justifications for them (the character has no choice, feels nihilistic, is naive, etc.), but they don't really convince. No real person would do the ridiculous things this guy does.

The revelation about the woman took me by surprise. I really didn't know what type of book this was going to be. That was sort-of fun, but also a let-down, because it meant that anything could now happen, there are no rules.

Finally, the last part of the book is a mess. The woman seems to have a personality change. I won't give anything away, but it basically took a cool, smart, interesting character and turned her into a stereotype, and no reason is given for her to act this way.

But as I said, the writing was good. If his other books are better, I'd be happy to give them a try.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Read - Until the End! Jan. 1 2013
By Happy Reader - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is riveting for most of the narration. Harry Ricks decamps from the U.S. in the wake of a scandal. With not much to his name, he dumps himself into Paris. To Paris, where he hadn't been for 20 years. The scandal is expertly revealed to the reader in bits and pieces. I'm not sure I actually like Harry Ricks, but what happens in Paris, almost all of it bad, does show he has resilience.

And there's good writing, that really takes you on Harry's ride. In a dive he's rented for 3 months, after which he'll be out of money, he disciplines himself to finally write the novel he's always said he would: " 'I'll show the bastards' is a statement uttered by someone who has suffered a setback ... or, more typically, has hit bottom. But as a resident of the latter category, I also knew that, rather than being some EST-style rallying cry, it was a howl from the last-chance saloon."

By happenchance, Harry meets Margit, a woman of beauty, class, and lust. The last buoys Harry immensely. For he's living in the slums, while Margit lives in the Paris Fifth Arrondissement, wealthy middle class, where he used to be. She is the Woman in the Fifth, and there's something really really odd about her. A true mystery woman.

Near the end of the book, we find out what is odd about her and it completely threw me off. I thought this book was a great read until then, and then all I could say was, "Oh for pete's sake." I cannot explain more without giving away too much.

So, in short, the first two-thirds of the book are riveting. The ending was not.

Happy Reader
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Odd, Strange, Peculiar, Bizarre, Weird, Outlandish Nov. 8 2011
By Regis Schilken - Published on
Format: Paperback
Author Douglas Kennedy is an artist. Like a painter who uses brush strokes to flesh out a person's individuality on canvas, author Kennedy uses an abundant amout of skillful dialogue. A reader cannot help but learn about a person's character by the sheer amount of dialogue in his latest novel, The Woman in the Fifth. In my mind, this is skillful writing, not mere story-telling.

Sucked down the societal drainpipe from a scandal in his American hometown where he had been a dignified professor, Harry Ricks empties into the dregs of the Parisian scene. Is such a sewer place possible? Well in The Woman in the Fifth it is. With only the money he's succored from a bank account where he left at least half to his beloved daughter, Harry rents a gutter-like room in Paris' noir element.

Suffocating in self pity, meaninglessness, and hopelessness, Harry merely tries to pass away his life in bars, salons, and movie theaters, convincing himself he is writing a good salable novel. Realizing his bank account will run out, Harry begins working for a shady man who pays him daily to sit through the night in a second floor "office" to buzz in undesirables into the vault-like room below him. Harry knows something illicit, even punishing, is going on but is afraid to get involved even after he hears horrific agonized shrieks through the floor--so badly does he need money.

At a strange salon, Harry meets and then falls in love with an odd woman who likes his body and sexual prowess, but she can only see him at definite times on certain days of the week in her apartment on the fifth. This lovely but bizarre woman spills out her guts to Harry. She reveals that she lost both her Husband and daughter in an automobile accident years ago. Harry has lost his wife and daughter in a somewhat contrived, unfair scandal.

After patrons leave a bar, a lonely barmaid locks the tavern door and in my mind, she forces Harry to screw her. All the while, this lurid lust-filled woman knows her jealous husband will murder Harry if he learns of their frenzied copulation. Well, of course he finds out! He is on the rampage to knife off Harry's testicles and to slit his throat as well.

But in The Woman in the Fifth, the very opposite occurs. This man is found brutally murdered; so is Harry's sleezy neighbor in the boarding next room next to his; so are people involved in whatever-is-going-on in the room beneath Harry's "office." Harry becomes a chief suspect in ALL the murders. He is questioned, but discloses little damaging information simply because he truly knows little.

At rock bottom, Harry revisits The Woman in the Fifth apartment he had met and confided in at the etheral timeless salon. To his complete chimera, her apartment is dusty--cobweb covered. This beloved woman died many years ago. WHAT! Does this make sense to the reader? Of course not! Does it make sense to Harry? Never! The scene is reminiscent of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations: the room where jilted Miss Havisham's wedding feast sits decaying amidst the ruinous remains of her wedding day.

How are these incongruous events to make sense? Can they make sense? Is Harry succumbing to the same fever that kept him sheltered for many days upon his pained arrival in beautiful Paris? Has time somehow passed him by or is he living in an even grander deceit than he first thought?

The Woman in the Fifth is a read that could easily leave you engrossed till its final pages. The ending is odd, strange, peculiar, different, bizarre, outlandish, weird--I haven't enough adjectives to describe it. It may leave you intrigued like the movie Ghost, or it may leave you disappointed that a more sensational realistic ending did not occur.

Needless to say. Readers will find The Woman in the Fifth hard to put down hoping for a climax befitting its dangerous story. I would recommend it to readers who love the mysterious, the mystifying, the baffling, the unearthly, the incredible. In the end, whatever judgement you pass upon this work, you will have to admit it was entertaining and well written.

This review was written by Regis Schilken, author of TEARS OF DECEIT!