Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Woman In The Fifth by Douglas Kennedy

Harry Ricks has hit rock bottom.  Two months ago, he was a popular professor teaching film criticism with a daughter he delighted in.  His marriage had grown remote, but all in all, he felt blessed.  Then tragedy.  He gets swept up in the adoration of a female student and sleeps with her.  The resulting scandal costs him his job, his marriage and his relationship with his daughter.  To add salt to the wound, he discovers his wife has had a long-standing affair with his boss, and they have made sure the scandal is as juicy and protracted as possible.

Wounded, Ricks flees to Paris.  He isn't sure what he will do, but at least he will be in the city he loves.  But, going to Paris as a well-to-do tourist and coming to Paris to live as an impoverished man is a far different proposition.  He finds himself in the roughest area of town, surrounded by people at best indifferent to his needs and at worst, actively hostile.  He finds a miserable job that is outside the official structure and settles into a mundane existence.

Then, everything changes.  Someone tells him about a salon where educated people gather to talk and mingle; best of all, admittance is just the cost of an evening's meal.  Ricks goes to the salon one Sunday evening and there he meets Margit Kadar.  She is a beautiful woman who seems as attracted to Harry as he is to her.  Older than him by a decade or more, she has an air of mystery and sophistication he can't resist.  Soon Margit and Harry have started an affair.  He goes to see her twice a week for three hours; those are the conditions she has laid down.

Just when Harry starts to believe that he might crawl out of his isolation and depression, things start to get even worse.  One by one, those who make his life miserable start to have horrific things happen to them.  Harry is amazed and soon he starts to get scared.  Can he discover who is behind everything happening to him before it manages to subsume him and take him under?

Douglas Kennedy has written a novel that is compelling, suspenseful and exciting.  Readers who start it won't want to do much else until they finish the story and discover Harry's fate.  Kennedy has a talent for making the unbelievable seem plausible and the reader is pulled into Harry's world.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy suspenseful reads.


StephTheBookworm said...

He has a lot of books out that look good. I have to start reading him!

Sandie said...

That's my plan now that I've read this one. I think I already have one of two of his others and I plan to move them up the stacks!

Anu said...

I love your reviews. Make me want to read each of those books! Sigh. If only.

- Anubhuti