Our Reading Guide for The Murder of Halland with much food for thought.

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Which elements in this short novel stem from traditional crime fiction?

How would you describe Bess’s behaviour after she learns about her husband’s death?

3  What is your reaction towards Bess? Do you consider her grieving process a conventional one? Does a ‘conventional’ grieving process exist?

4  Bess spends much of her time trying to understand a character she can no longer question directly. Halland never appears in the present narrative, so the reader never precisely meets him either. How much could you gather about Halland from the text? How do you think the author conveys information about Halland without showing his thought process on the page?

5  It seems Halland kept many secrets from Bess. Did you ever wonder whether Bess was hiding anything from us, the readers, especially considering the fact that she is a writer and knows how to fabricate stories?

6  Bess is surrounded by complicated personal relationships. What do you think you learnt about Bess from the way other characters react to her?

7  Bess’ most vivid memory of being with Halland is of an ordinary, but intimate bus trip they took together. How did the description of that episode make you feel about their relationship?

8  Mystery surrounds many of the character’s motivations, as people appear and disappear in Bess’ life seemingly at random. Do you think the theme of personal mystery compliments the mystery surrounding Halland’s murder?

9  ‘The Murder of Halland’ doesn’t provide a definitive solution to its central mystery and much of Halland’s life remains as mysterious to the reader as it does to Bess. What is your own interpretation of events and who do you think shot Halland?

10  Is it important to know who shot Halland?