When I read ‘Cold Mountain’ by Charles Frazier, I was absolutely gripped. I’m about to give a massive spoiler here, so if you haven’t yet read it or seen the film but may want or intend to, then stop reading here.
I’m going to mention the end of the book, which had been a long, slow, but as I said, gripping read. The end was approaching, I knew it was going to finish soon, and I must confess did wonder how a satisfactory conclusion could be reached within such a short amount of remaining book. I thought it might end with the odyssey unfinished, or the home straight in sight, but I never imagined (SPOILER!) that Frazier would kill the main character who had struggled so hard an overcome so much! Yes, the main character, was killed in the last few pages. I was so cross, it was as if Frazier thought any ending might be corny, or couldn’t be bothered, or was fed up with writing, and bam! Dead! It was almost equivalent to ‘and I woke up and it was all a dream’! I had a similar disappointment with the excellent series of books by Graham Hurley – (Spoiler) the great character Joe Faraday was bumped off in the last book in the series. I didn’t mind it was the last in the series and no more, I wouldn’t have minded Faraday retiring, emigrating, joining an enclosed order of monks, disappearing to a distant land, but why kill him? It seemed a cheat to the reader – although I realised later that Graham agonised over it.
The same thing can happen in TV series; you can follow a character for years, and then good grief, s/he’s dead! And why dead? Because the actor wants to leave the series, because the writer is bored with them, because the series is losing popularity, lots of different reasons. I know it’s silly, but it can be really painful when a character you’ve known and loved for years is extinguished – and it’s not just TV. Nigel Pargeter was killed off in the most ridiculous and unbelievable, sensational way just to boost the popularity of the series. I stopped listening soon after, having been faithful for decades.
So – th reason I’m writing this is that last week saw the final episode of ‘Shetland’ based on Ann Cleeves grerat series about Jimmy Perez. In fact, to be truthful, it isn’t the actual last, it’s the last in which Douglas Henshall stars as Jimmy Perez. It was well publicised that he was leaving, and all through the six episodes of his final series, I was dreading that he would be bumped off. It wasn’t just that I thought it would be sensational in the wrong way, and that it would be annoying – and yes, upsetting to have such a great character deleted, but I thought killing him would be unimaginative and lazy. The final episode came, there were concealed bombs, people with guns, unknown baddies, it was tense and edge-of-the-seat stuff… And… and… did they kill Jimmy? No spoiler, you’ll have to watch the series, with one clue, I am feeling happy and relieved!