Saturday 24 June 2017

Wallander's 'retirement' will please no one but his creator

Judith Flanders

No more Wallander? Nearly a quarter of a century after his first appearance, readers will have to say goodbye to their favourite ailing, unhappy cop. Henning Mankell, his creator, is hanging up his detective shield. He is on record as saying: "I don't even particularly like the man." But, readers will howl, that's not the point: we like him.

This is hardly the first time readers have been abandoned by authors. In 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle was so fed up with being known solely as the creator of Holmes that he threw him over the Reichenbach Falls while in pursuit of criminal Moriarty. Conan Doyle left no room for ambiguity: he called the story 'The Final Problem', and then planned to devote his time to historical fiction, which he thought he wrote rather well.

Audiences, however, failed to agree, and in 1901 he brought Holmes back in 'The Hound of the Baskervilles', set before Holmes's supposed death. Two years later Conan Doyle returned to the grind of producing regular Holmes stories, miraculously resuscitating the detective. (He had faked his death.)

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