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37. The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell

38. The Killing Room by Richard Montanari

I'm writing these two up together because I ended up reading them at the same time and although both are compelling reading, they're incredibly different, and it was an interesting contrast.

The Mankell is a Wallander book. I know where I am with these - well written, well observed slices of Swedish life with an intelligent mystery and an incredibly gloomy main detective who is surrounded by impossibly competent colleagues.

I've been looking at Montanari's books in the library for years but never got around to reading them. This just happens to be the 2012 instalment. While it's nowhere near as literary as Mankell, it's nevertheless hard to put down. Set in Philadelphia (with a sense of place that reminds me of Baltimore as portrayed in The Wire, but look at a map and it's probably a fair assessment), it's a gruesome ritual-element serial killer work. He has all the hooks (short chapters, cliffhangers) that keep you reading. The end was disappoitning - the strands didn't all fit together for me, and the solution was nowhere near as interesting as the set-up. Having said that, I will probably read more of the series if I come across them in the library. The conveyance of the sense of place is good, and the detectives are just interesting enough.

The ending of the Wallander is a bit of a let-down too, but with him you conclude that he's making a statement about the banality of evil.

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