In the book-world it is an unwritten rule that you should never adapt a film or television series into a book. It is alright if it is the other way round though. This year, books adapted for film and television: Parade’s End, The Wettest County in the World, The Hunger Games, have enjoyed phenomenal success. Then again, others like Cosmopolis utterly flopped – sorry ladies, but R-Patz was completely awful.
Books which are conversions of films however, are usually forgotten; Raymond Benson’s Bond books for example. Reading The World is Not Enough, even at the age of ten, made completely clear that the book did not reach even a fraction of the film’s spectacular heights, unfortunately. Often the commercial nature of books can take away from literary merit.
There exists, though, an exception to this rule: David Hewson’s novelisation of The Killing. Based on the Danish detective series about a cardigan-wearing middle-aged policewoman, is amazingly close to being as good as the television series; it’s transmutation into novel form excellent. Hewson captures the drabness of Denmark remarkably; grey skies, cold weather, racial tension (though it never reaches the Nazi-like ridiculousness of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Stieg Larsson is perhaps Hewson’s closest competition; the two cult series have become perhaps the most famous Scandinavian crime productions to hit the page and the screen alike.
The Killing is a good 700-page read and like Girl With A Dragon Tattoo manages to cast the state and those in positions of authority in a less than heroic light. Yet the hefty length of Hewson’s work does not invite frustration; as with Homeland you are kept paranoid with questions, failed attempts to guess the enemy until the very end. And this is a good form of paranoia. Rich in engrossing dialogue, this novel twists like a tree in the Scandinavian breeze; just make sure you don’t stop reading.
The Killing is available now from Macmillan
Words: Harry Wise