The Woman in the Fifth
Douglas Kennedy
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Buy *The Woman in the Fifth* by Douglas Kennedy online

The Woman in the Fifth
Douglas Kennedy
352 pages
July 2011
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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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; at least he'll 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, a beautiful woman who seems as attracted to Harry as he is to her. Older than he 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 he soon begins to get scared. Can he discover who is behind everything happening to him before it subsumes him?

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

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Sandie Kirkland, 2011

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