The Woman In The Fifth
- Publication Date:
- 02 February 2012
- Modern & Contemporary
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Many reviewers on other sites have not rated this favourably, seemingly because they were existing fans of Kennedy and felt slightly let down by his change of tack towards the supernatural.This being my first Kennedy, I started with no such encumbrances and therefore enjoyed the supernatural element... although I must admit I saw it coming (if this had been the case had I not read previous reviews I couldn't say).I had a certain amount of sympathy for the protaganist, and am not convinced he deserved all he had gone through which had led him to Paris. I found I could relate to the frustration of his situation, and was constantly thinking surely...things can't get worse.I found the plot was fairly tight, given the fact that belief had to be suspended to a certain extent to get any enjoyment out of the book at all. I was perfectly satisfied with the ending, but I can see how others may disagree.Left me with a desire to read more of Douglas Kennedy.
At 386 pages this is quite a long read, and I don't remember how it got onto my lists. Someone recommended it somewhere and obviously I thought it sounded interesting. But by page 250 I was beginning to wonder whether I was really all that interested in continuing.Let me tell you about it without giving too much away.The year his life as an American college professor fell apart, Harry Ricks fled to Paris with all his worldly wealth. Arriving in mid-winter he checks into a hotel where he is laid low by some sort of flu and is befriended by the hotel's night porter who helps him find cheap accommodation. He finds a job as a night watchman just watching TV monitors, letting people in and out of the building by pressing a button, and alerting those within to strangers in the alleyway next door. He has no idea what actually happens in the building, is told he doesn't need to know, and is paid on a daily basis, which suits him fine. When he is befriended by Margit, a Hungarian emigre, we learn more about why he left America, as he tells her his story. The man who lives in the room next door to Harry is viciously killed in the toilet they share and Harry becomes an object of police interest.At this point I thought, here we are! Crime fiction at last. What happened next caught me truly unawares and stretched the bounds of credibility. Someone who looks for more woo-woo and para-normal in their reading might be very happy with it, just wasn't really my cup of tea, and no, it's not really crime fiction although at a stretch you could call it a mystery.It's not that its badly written, perhaps it could have done with a bit of pruning, and the story threads themselves were interesting, just that I was expecting something else perhaps.
This book was quite strange really but I did enjoy it. I guessed half way through the book who was committing the crimes but found the reasoning quite incredible and a little disappointing.
I really like Douglas Kennedy but this book is not one of his better ones. Some of the writing is a little pretentious. About Harry Ricks, a college professor who moves to Paris to escape his scandalous past. He meets a mysterious woman who lives in the Fifth Arondissement. Tragedy starts to happen to people who have wronged Harry and cannot be coincidental. Farfetched, but this is fiction after all.
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