Not-So-Fond Farewells

Two popular and long-running book series come to an end with the latest volumes published today. Judging by some of the reviews, readers may be better off returning to earlier volumes.

The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Land of Painted Caves (Crown/Random House) is the final volume in Jean M. Auel’s series, which began in 1980. USA Today says, “Auel has been driven by her insistence on accuracy, which is why it took more than three decades to publish the series,” but says, “Alas, her dedication to detail is what makes this final book interesting but not compelling.”

The Kurt Wallander series — in the NYT, Janet Maslin objects to the way Henning Mankell finishes off the star of his 22-yeqr-old series. In the final volume, The Troubled Man (Knopf/Random House), Maslin says the author sounds “fed up and bored” with him (she may be right; Mankell himself tells the Guardian why he is happy to say goodbye to Wallander). Although Maslin judges this a “successful stand-alone book” because Wallander, now 60, brings readers up to speed on the series by his ruminations on the past, she finds the novel overly focused on the character’s worries about his own mental and physical deterioration.

On the other hand, Marilyn Stasio, in her crime column in the NYT BR, says that Wallander is at “his gloomy best” in this final book.

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