First published on 9 May 2012. Updated on 6 Aug 2012.
Eric Van Lustbader recently released the latest book in the Bourne series, the spy franchise created by Robert Ludlum in 1980. One author taking over for another when he passes is hardly unique – former poet laureate Andrew Motion recently wrote a book featuring Long John Silver – but does it always work? Here are some characters who’ve been given the two-author treatment, and which author fared better.
The creator: Robert Ludlum first unleashed Bourne in the '80s, introducing us to a multi-alias-holding, amnesic, Cold-War-era spy with a thoughtful bent.
The continuer: Eric Van Lustbader releases his seventh Bourne novel in June, having taken over the franchise in 2004. He brings Bourne into modern times, kills most of Ludlum’s characters and hews close to the arse-kicking Bourne popularised by Matt Damon on screen.
Our verdict: Though Lustbader has authored more novels – seven to Ludlum's three – he trades Ludlum’s character development for action-packed storylines to his detriment.
The creator: British author Ian Fleming wrote 12 Bond novels from 1953 following his suave 00 agent. Bond isn’t perfect – he’s a heavy-smoking, prejudiced womaniser, but he is a hero with charm and skills in shooting, skiing, hand-to-hand combat and golf. All handy.
The continuer: American crime writer Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector) re-imagined Bond in 2011’s Carte Blanche as a thirty-something agent in today’s world. While the book ignores the novels it follows, Deaver keeps in line with Fleming’s characters, basics and Britishness.
Our verdict: While no Fleming, Deaver’s update is a worthy and fan-pleasing update.
The creator: Jane Austen, who gave us the wilful heroine back in 1813.
The continuer: Ignoring anything to do with the undead, the most interesting journey back to the Bennets came last year when detective author PD James published a sequel, Death Comes to Pemberley. James stuck to what she knows: set six years after the characters’ marriage, the sequel covers a murder mystery in Austen’s original world.
Not in the spirit of Austen perhaps – we’d loved to have seen what the Jane Austen Book Club would do with it – but a treat for crime fiction fans.
The creator: Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a series of four novels and 56 short stories on Holmes, starting in 1887. The London-based detective solved mysteries through a mix of logical reasoning, disguise and some lo-fi CSI forensics.
The continuer: Anthony Horowitz continued the series in 2005 with The House of Silk, closely mimicking the original style and including the original characters.
Our verdict: Horowitz could never beat Conan Doyle at his own game, which is why it’s a shame he didn’t take more creative liberties with Holmes. Though, we admit, that way danger lies (see Downey Jr, Robert).