Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Robert B. Parker lives! (Sort of...)

Bestselling mystery writer Robert B. Parker died more than a year ago after publishing 60 books since 1974. Parker was best known for his Spenser books, brought to series TV starring Robert Urich, and his Jesse Stone series, which became TV movies with Tom Selleck in the title role.

When someone as prolific and popular as Robert B. Parker dies, there are usually unpublished novels in production, as well as many questions about the possibility of keeping the literary machine working with other writers taking on the characters. When Lawrence Sanders died (much to the distress of one of my friends), his estate hired Vincent Lardo to continue Sanders' Archie McNally series. Both authors' names appear on the books. V.C. Andrews and W.E.B. Griffin, long gone to writer heaven, are still "writing," and, in their cases, no other author appears on the cover. And Frederick Schiller Faust, writing as Max Brand, with countless western novels in print and more appearing every year, died during World War II while serving as a war correspondent.

Now Penguin Group has announced that a deal has been struck with the estate of Robert B. Parker to keep his series going. Michael Brandman will continue to write the Jesse Stone books, while Ace Atkins will author the Spenser series. Parker will be a hard act to follow. Time will tell if readers will accept the old characters with the new authors.

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