Shelf Awareness has reviewed Douglas Kennedy’s The Woman in the Fifth (Atria, Paperback: 9781451602111, eBook: 9781451602142) in their July 5th “Shelf Awareness for Readers.” See below for the full review!
Douglas Kennedy (The Moment; Leaving the World) offers up a gritty tale of lost lives, betrayal and murder set in Paris’s seedy underbelly. Readers looking for a cure for the common romance need look no further.
Fleeing a shattered marriage, an ill-fated affair and a brewing legal storm, disgraced film professor Harry Ricks takes refuge in Paris, but the City of Lights is no dream come true. Destitute, Harry barely manages to afford a tiny chambre de bonne alongside criminals and illegal immigrants. Financial need forces him to take a shady position as night watchman for illegal activities. Alone and embattled by suspicious neighbors, Harry spends his time dodging threats and trying to contact his angry daughter, until he meets Margit Kadar. Mature, intelligent and alluring, Margit stokes Harry’s dormant passion into an inferno, and the two strike up a torrid affair. However, a catastrophic series of events soon makes Harry question whether Margit’s mysterious demeanor hides a wounded heart or a sinister nature.
Kennedy’s blunt depiction of Paris’s immigré class provides a grainy backdrop to the layers of danger and manipulation Harry faces in his new dog-eat-dog reality. Kennedy creates an ever-expanding web of tension as Harry proves unable to escape calamity. Kennedy also explores the concept of communal guilt, as catastrophes are created by chains of events in which none of the participants are truly innocent. While the reader will by design vacillate between sympathy and contempt for Harry, the enigmatic Margit steals the show in this noir-style page-turner. –Jaclyn Fulwood, graduate assistant, University of Oklahoma Libraries
Discover: A gritty tale of passion turned deadly in Paris’s underbelly.