In a cliffhanger, DSI Gibson (Gillian Anderson) leans over Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) as he lies dying--or is he?
CLIFFHANGER: DEATH BY HIS GRACE
On August 30, 2017 | 6 Comments

Hey, what’s up with the cliffhanger?

Even before this week when the latest Darko Dawson novel, DEATH BY HIS GRACE, was released in hardcover, a bit of a controversy developed among reviewers who received the advance copies. It concerned the cliffhanger ending, which some found upsetting. Library Journal predicted in their review: that “Series fans may be stunned by the suddenness of the unexpected cliffhanger ending.” They were right! One of my readers told me I was “so wrong” to end it the way I did, to which my editor at Soho Press tersely commented, “[Kwei,] you have a right to end a book however you want.”

 

DEATH BY HIS GRACE: Cliffhanger!

DEATH BY HIS GRACE: Cliffhanger!

 

 

Some readers like a conventional and neatly tied-up ending to a book, but such endings have begun to appeal to me less and less for a couple reasons. The first is that life is messy and rarely wraps up nicely. I know that novels are fantasy or “escape,” but my novels are based in reality and the realities tackled can be rather heavy and dark. Murder, my subject matter, is dark and horrifying–unless it’s a Miss Marple cozy in which the village vicar was killed politely in the vestry. There’s never any blood there. There’s plenty in mine.

In a cliffhanger, DSI Gibson (Gillian Anderson) leans over Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) as he lies dying--or is he?

In a cliffhanger, DSI Gibson (Gillian Anderson) leans over Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) as he lies dying–or is he?

Second, I’m rather shifting to what I call “the Netflix model.” My stories in the future are going to be “Netflix ready,” in other words, adaptible to one or more seasons of three or more episodes. The Netflixers among us know how many great suspense and mystery thrillers on the small screen have ended in cliffhangers. One of my personal best examples is The Fall, with Gillian Anderson and the mesmerizing Jamie Dornan. The end of Series [Season] 2 left me with my mouth open and my eyes big as saucers. But I loved it!

At the moment there’s a raging debate about the finale climax of Season 7 of Game Of Thrones. Clearly, my novels are not epic fantasies, but I think you get my point that in series, cliffhangers are often par for the course. As I shift my writing slightly to being screen-ready, readers should know that there may be more cliffhangers in store. In fact, my next novel, tentatively titled Dead American, will almost certainly end in a cliffhanger.

For more comments and reviews on DEATH BY HIS GRACE, see here, and please read the novel for yourself and add your two cents on Goodreads and/or Amazon.com.

Comments6
Pietro G. Poggi Posted September 18, 2017 at12:43 am   Reply

OK, I have no problem with cliffhangers—HOWEVER, we always know if there will be another season on the TV shows you mention. Plus, you have started another series (maybe) and it is at least a year between books, so this is most disturbing to fans. Not to say I do not have a life, but I am kind of addicted to Darko Dawson. I was really upset when Akua Hemsley got killed.

Kwei Quartey Posted April 25, 2018 at2:27 pm   Reply

Thanks, Pietro. Have no fear, Darko is not dead!

Beverly buyce Posted November 24, 2017 at12:47 pm   Reply

I hope you resurect Darko. What is his family going to do without him? Yes, i know tbey are fictional, but i got to know them too well.

Kwei Quartey Posted April 25, 2018 at2:26 pm   Reply

Thanks, Beverly. Actually, Darko is not dead, as you will see in the next novel

James Scarrow Posted January 28, 2018 at11:52 am   Reply

Regarding the “cliffhanger” in Death By His Grace: I too got a rude shock when I came to the sudden and abrupt cut-off that is the end of this book. I was left wondering if the dog ate the last chapter, or perhaps somebody had torn the last couple of pages out of the book. The author’s explanation of this uncharacteristic (for the series) turn of events leaves me as cold as his abrupt ending. While I enjoy the glimpses of “real life” in the books, and appreciate that life is messy, it always resolves itself in a natural way, it does not result in so-called cliff-hangers. With a chest wound of this sort, and the knife out of the wound, our detective will bleed-out before help can arrive, and it will all be over in the space of 3 minutes. That’s the reality of life. Also, no real detective would purposely trap a known killer who hacks a victim up with a machete, unarmed and without serious backup. So much for “real life”. Also cut-off without any further development, are the underlying social themes of Ghanaian society introduced in the book.

I think real life in Ghana is giving way to real life in the USA where the lure of big bucks with Netflix and screen-ready drama have messed up a good series. I’ve never been a fan of the sort of commercial ‘fast-food-style’ drama the author seems to now prefer. For me the series ends here with a bad taste. I’ll miss Darko and his humour, and my ongoing visit to Ghana. It was nice while it lasted, and nothing good lasts forever; also a reality of life. Bye, and thanks for the ride Kwei.

Kwei Quartey Posted April 25, 2018 at2:24 pm   Reply

Actually, Darko is not dead, as you will see in the next novel.

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