Telling Another Author's Tales

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I met a woman in Raleigh, North Carolina who was outraged - Outraged! - that "some guy" was going to continue The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series created by the late Steig Larsson (the guy's named David Lagercrantz, by the way). Clearly, she wanted me to be outraged, too, and since there was free Bourbon involved I tried to go along, but my heart wasn't in it.

Truth is, I didn't care and I haven't cared since I learned at a tender age that the Hardy Boys had dozens of fathers, all going by the name Franklin W. Dixon - and that Nancy Drew had many mothers (and a few fathers) that called themselves Carolyn Kane.

When I was a kid reporter for the Albert Lea Evening Tribune in southern Minnesota I met a guy who worked on the Nick Carter - Spymaster series. Except, he never actually wrote an entire book. Instead, he told me that he and a couple of other writers would be assigned chapters according to their particular skills: one guy did the sex scenes, another the action scenes, and so on, each following an outline that they received - and these chapters were later reconciled by an editor. He didn't even read the books; just his chapters.

These days, at least, no one is trying to fool anyone. When he finished Poodle Springs back in the day, the cover read "by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker."

Granted, things might be getting a tad out of hand. Kyle Mills is continuing the Mitch Rapp series started by Vince Flynn; Raymond Benson, among others, has written James Bond novels; both Ace Atkins and Reed Farrel Coleman are channeling Parker for the Spencer and Jesse Stone books respectively, Eric Van Lustbader and now Jamie Freveletti have taken on Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne and even Adrian Conan Doyle tried his hand at writing his old man's Sherlock Holmes stories - who hasn't?

My answer to all this - despite my left-leaning Independent politics - let the free market decide. If I may paraphrase the late great Yogi Berra: "If people don't want to read the books, you can't stop them."

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