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Sunday, 3 June 2018

The Afterlife of Sheldon, Fleming and Christie

Sidney Sheldon is now an official ghost, something that every dead writer covets to be. The pop maestro of fast-paced thrillers—so addictive that his fanclub extends to the hermetic interiors of North Korea—will delight his readers from beyond the grave with a new book The Silent Widow, penned by Tilly Bagshawe. The book will be released this month.Commissioned by Sheldon's publisher, Bagshawe explores the underbelly of Los Angeles, a city in which the author resided. A successful television writer, Sheldon found fame when he shifted to fiction at 50.

Sheldon is not the only writer with a rather lucrative afterlife in the offing. There is Enid Blyton, who has shaped childhoods across the world, introducing goblins, elves and adventures to kids. Over the years, there have been several authors who have chosen to continue her series to much success. Blyton originals, however, are still a rite of passage for millions across the world. The first writer to have chosen to go down her magical path was Claude Voilier, who wrote in French. The books were later translated into English.

Then, there are the immortal writers. Agatha Christie continues to be the queen of crime, courtesy of crime writer and poet Sophie Hannah. James Bond, created by Ian Fleming, continues to romance and spy uninterrupted. From Kingsley Amis, who wrote under pseudonym Robert Markham, to Sebastian Faulks, and now Antony Horowitz. Bond has had a number of literary handlers including John Gardner and Raymond Benson. Then there is Sherlock, who refuses to retire. Written by Antony Horowitz, The House of Silk and Moriarty did very well.

And then there's James Patterson who hasn't even waited to die before getting other writers to write his books for him, but that's another topic for another day.

 It seems that being dead is no great handicap to bestselling authors.

The question is, do they work? What do readers think?

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