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Endurance test: Irish crime writers on the art of keeping their lead characters fresh

Revisiting a protagonist presents a host of problems, including their age, their personality traits and readers' expectations. Henrietta McKervey asks leading Irish crime writers how they tackled the challenge

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Case closed: The 1893 short story 'The Final Problem' was supposed to spell Sherlock Holmes' demise, apparently having plunged to his death with his arch-enemy Moriarty, but public pressure ensured he survived

Case closed: The 1893 short story 'The Final Problem' was supposed to spell Sherlock Holmes' demise, apparently having plunged to his death with his arch-enemy Moriarty, but public pressure ensured he survived

Case closed: The 1893 short story 'The Final Problem' was supposed to spell Sherlock Holmes' demise, apparently having plunged to his death with his arch-enemy Moriarty, but public pressure ensured he survived

'Don't be daft," Steve Cavanagh says when I ask the Belfast-born author if he would ever kill off Eddie Flynn, his conman-turned-New York-trial-lawyer.

Flynn has featured in five internationally successful novels, so his creator's reluctance to dispense with him is understandable. But for many crime writers, returning to the same lead character can be a challenge, and an unexpected one.

"I don't think anyone can honestly say they envisaged a long-running series, because it's not really up to the writer," says Cavanagh. "I did have an idea for a second book [when writing the first], but I was no fool. If the first one wasn't going to get published, there was no point in writing a second."