Sunday, March 14, 2010

THE FIFTH WOMAN by Henning Mankell (2000)

In this Kurt Wallander mystery, there are two murders that baffle and appal the inspector. An octogenarian bird enthusiast and self-published poet is impaled on sharpened bamboo poles in a ditch near his secluded home and the atrophied corpse of a missing florist is discovered strangled and tied to a tree where he is found by a runner.

As clues, Wallander has discovered a skull, a diary and a photo of three men taken in the 50s or 60s and it seems that at least one of the recent dead is implicated in former mercenary activity. Just as the team begin to understand what is happening, there is another corpse, this time a university researcher who is drowned in a hemp sack, and the pathologist is certain that he was alive when the bag hit the water.

What becomes clear is that each of these victims shares a sordid past and that in the present there is someone determined to expose those horrors, but not before a distinct brand of justice is served.

What I continue to appreciate in Mankell's storytelling is his ability to weave narratives so that each has a definite and important weight.

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