Bill L. (Hilliard, OH)
The Fifth Servant
I really enjoyed The Fifth Servant. From the start, it was was well thought out with multiple twists and turns to keep you on the edge of your seat. So suspenseful, that I couldn't put the book down once I started reading. Wishina has a wonderful way with words that makes you believe you are actually in the story itself. Don't be put off by the language barrier, it's part of the journey that will make this a memorable story you will never forget.
Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia is all it purports to be: an intelligent mystery, an entertaining story, a fascinating history, and a great lesson in Talmudic thought and linguistics. It is one of those books that keeps me up all night, crying, "Just one more chapter." I would recommend it to all who love a mystery such as Dick Francis's Proof and Alex Haley's Money that teach a subject while you solve the crime! There is a glossary - wish it had pronunciation key as well.
Portia A. (Mount Laurel, NJ)
A Taste of History and Mystery
I started this book with some trepidation because the time (16th Century) and the place (Prague) were not good times to be a Jew. I soon found myself immersed in the excellent writing and I found the book to be a good choice.
Though it isn't a happy story, it is one worth reading.
Wendy R. (Riverside, CA)
The Fifth Servant
The Fifth Servant takes place over three days, but is not a fast paced book for all the author tries to accomplish, both in conveying the historical aspects of the time period as well as the more philosophical discussions that take place between the characters. There are also the personal stories. Benyamin's attempts to reconcile with his wife and Anya and her own internal struggles, including whether or not to pursue forbidden love. There is building tension, especially as Benyamin's deadline to bring forward the real killer approaches and the angry mob outside the gates grows more and more violent. The mystery itself, the search for what happened to the murdered girl, seemed almost secondary to the other events taking place to the book. Still, it definitely is what moved the story forward.
The Fifth Servant was not quite I expected, but I did enjoy it. I would have preferred there to have been more of a balance between the mystery itself and the other aspects of the novel; however, there was so much going on that I can see how challenging that might be. The inquisition is an interesting and sad part of our world's history, and I was inspired to do a little research into the time period the novel is set in after finishing it--always a good sign.
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.
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.