Mystery Monday: The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell

Dear Reader:

It has been awhile since I started this book – reading a lot of Elizabeth Bowen, Chinese history and literature, and travel took me off track.  But this was my book to read in the interstices – when the cockpit door was closed, my kindle and Steve Jobs was stowed and upon descent, and other moments.  I kind of haven’t been as compelled by mysteries lately – other things have caught my attention.

#30 (HC) The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell

But this is not Henning’s fault.  I enjoy his Wallander series mysteries – I like Wallander and appreciate the fact that, while just as workaholic as every other cop in a police procedural or mystery (where are all the lazy cops who solve crimes?) he doesn’t seem to prioritize bucking authority in the way many others do, isn’t a raging alcoholic (although he has been known to descend into alcoholic fugues under great stress), and seems, overall, to be pretty likeable – by and large, his colleagues get along with him.  He has the standard difficulties with family and lovers due to his insane work schedule, but hey, what cop doesn’t?

Ok, so I’ve talked before about Henning Mankell – that he writes a mix of books, many mysteries but also “regular” non-mystery novels.  And that his Wallander series books seem nearly always to have a strong social justice theme – often one where you end up learning more about a new issue.  This one is no exception.  I’ll try not to spoil anything and just talk about stuff that is general or happens early.  This book’s social justice theme is the abuse of women.  We figure this out fairly early and it is dealt with in interesting ways.  We hear the killer narrating fairly early on but don’t completely understand their identity until later.  Wallander is struggling with lots of family issues as he tries to solve these crimes: his pain in the butt father, Baiba – his lover who he wants to move to Sweden, to a lesser degree his ongoing issues with his daughter, Linda.  This was an interesting one because I had read books that came after it in the series and was backtracking through some of the earlier ones.  At this point, I think I’ve made my way through 6 or 7 Wallanders.  Mankell does a good job mixing just enough clues and drama to keep us reading with just enough sense of the horrors of a particular social justice with just enough info about Wallander to make him believable and relate-able.  And I enjoy the familiar landscape of southwestern Sweden: Lund, Malmo, Skane.

I also finished #86 Steve Jobs (K).  Great, great book.  But my post on it is going to be long and time-intensive – I think I’ll be able to get it up in a day or two.

Happy Reading!  Ruby

HC = Hard copy, K = Kindle copy

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