How not to kill The Killing

Copy: The National May 2012, The Observer June 2012

Don’t worry, I’m not going to add to the millions of column inches and blogs waxing lyrical about the Danish crime drama Forbrydelsen and detective Sarah Lund’s jumpers. Apart from to ask whether she’s got multiple versions of the same ones, or just smells really, really bad.

Anyway, if you haven’t watched The Killing yet, you must. It’s fabulous television. But would it make for a good crime novel too? We’re well used to terrible, cash-in books of films and I admit to fearing the worst when I heard that Pan Macmillan had a Killing adaptation in the works. But those fears were eased somewhat when it was announced that a proper crime novelist, David Hewson, was signed up to write it.

And happily, he’s gone far beyond simply sitting down with a DVD box set and pressing pause at regular intervals to copy out the plot and dialogue. The Killing: The Novel is ostensibly the same story, but has a different ending – a gamble but one that really works in that it smooths out some of the problems I had with the motivations of the perpetrator.

When I spoke to Hewson about all this for The National, he mentioned that even the producers of the series recognised that there were some problems with The Killing – not least that it was slightly too long. The novel is still a bit of a doorstopper, but he does strip out some of the extraneous stuff too – all of which had the blessing of the original creator Soren Sveistrup. In fact, he was just as intrigued as everyone else to see what had changed.

As my review in The Observer says, Hewson’s approach really works, teasing out the tragic undercurrent running through the storyline. A rousing tak to him for not riding roughshod over the best series I’ve seen in some time.


1 Comment

  • Reply February 18, 2016


    What about if the book were narrated by Agatha Christie helsref (before her death, of course)? I found some audiobooks are narrated by the authors themselves, with a special cast of voice actors chosen to read the character’s lines.

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