Carrie L. (Albany, NY)
A good read that requires concentration
This book is incredibly rich and dense. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience, but I found myself taking notes and reading slowly. The time and place were foreign to me, so readers familiar with 1592 Prague may have an easier go. I highly recommend it for literary mystery fans and ambitious, serious readers.
Denice B. (Fort Bragg, CA)
The Fifth Servant
What a disappointment! Although obviously very well researched, the story didn't flow. The story and plot (what was it??) were confusing, and, though I'm fascinated by language, the insertions of several foreign tongues was tedious rather than illuminating. It was a chore to read, and I found myself rereading too many passages.
Sue B. (White Bear Lake, MN)
The Fifth Servant
I didn't like this book and struggled to finish it. The storyline and characters were not well developed. The book became bogged down with too many Jewish references and words. It was tiresome and boring to read.
Liz G.G. (South Pasadena, CA)
The Fifth Servant was a real disappointment. I really wanted to like this book. I have visited Prague and found it a beautiful and interesting city. I was looking forward to learning more about its complex history. Instead this novel was more like a lecture on comparative religion with a confusing murder mystery. The book is well researched and contains all sorts of historical information about medical practices, torture used during the inquisition and prejudices the Christians of that period had about Jews. Unfortunately these little scenes were sort of dropped into the story line with out a clear link to the plot. Likewise, the marital problems of the protagonist included to give the character some back story could have been omitted entirely. The glossary with this edition only included about a third of the expressions and terms used in the story. Some were explained in context others were not. I had the feeling that the author began with a collection of historical events and settings about this period and then tried to weave a murder mystery into the text.
Caryl L. (Williamsburg, VA)
The fifth servant
This book was very difficult to read as it is written for a specific audience. As advertised, I was looking forward to a history of the period and the Inquisition. The story line also sounded interesting. These two themes are very thin. The book is actually about rabbinical teachings, quotes from the Talmud Torah and other readings. For those interested in this area and its teachings, it may be an interesting book. I cannot recommend for general audiences.
Susan B. (Rutledge, MO)
I'm not normally a mystery reader, so I chose this due to the setting, namely the Jewish ghetto in Prague in 1592. I enjoy languages and there are plenty in this book-- Yiddish, Hebrew, Czech, German, Polish, sprinkled throughout the text -- but understanding the non-English words is fairly easy, either from context or the very helpful glossary provided. I found the plot compelling, the historical, religious and cultural details fascinating, and the way the story was told intriguing.
What began as a slight frustration became something of a game for me: while reading I found myself wanting to pay extra-close attention to characters and events in (what seemed to be) the background, because I never knew which, if any, might become the focus of the next chapter. Regular mystery readers, or those who read more slowly and/or carefully, might not experience this, and while my fellow quick-and-dirty readers might find it annoying, I found it an engaging challenge.
I found some of the Inquisition details too graphic for my taste, but all in all it was an extremely enjoyable read; highly recommended.
Belma M. (Odessa, Texas)
This book was good. It was a little hard with the different languages switching back and forth but I was able to keep up. This book is for anyone who likes a mystery.