Henning Mankell: “The Fifth Woman”

Henning Mankell has written more than two dozen books from his home in Sweden. I only recently discovered his Kurt Wallender series of mysteries because a coworker mentioned how much she enjoyed the recent PBS TV series based on the books.

I read “The White Lioness” and “The Man Who Smiled.” Both very engaging stories. Currently, I’m reading “The Fifth Woman.”
All the Wallander books are police procedurals, and hinge on the details of thinking through the evidence and following the train of thought of the investigator.

I’m reading these in the English translation from the Swedish originals. With that said, I have to say these books don’t offer stunningly poetic prose. It may be just a side effect of the translation process, but the language in these mysteries is rather pedestrian. The words never fly, but plod along at an unwavering pace. The translations are fine, though my mind stumbles each time at the frequent use of the hyphenated spelling of “no-one” (according to my education, it is two words — “no one”). Despite the lack of musical English, these novels are very engaging.

That’s because the main character is an interesting, flawed person. He’s rather bland in many respects, which adds to his charm as a fiction character. He trudges through his investigations, slowly gathering clues until eventually the solution presents itself.

I look forward to reading more of the Wallander series, though I find I need to space them out read a faster-paced story between doses of Mankell.


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