One of the most interesting announcements about mysteries this summer is the news that HarperCollins has hired Sophie Hannah to write a new Hercule Poirot mystery, nearly 40 years after Agatha Christie's last Poirot book.
The Monogram Murders will be published on September 9.
Author Hannah writes psychological crime thrillers and her non-Poirot books can be found in WPPL's Fiction section.
The official Agatha Christie website posted this statement: "Written with the full backing of Christie's family, and featuring the most iconic detective of all time, this new novel is a major event for mystery lovers the world over.."
Readers are asking how there can be a new Poirot case since he was killed off in the final novel, Curtain. Hannah has explained that she is setting her story earlier in Poirot's career, thus avoiding having to bring him back from the dead. The author also said that the main character of her novel will be a policeman who asks Poirot to become involved in his case.
I'm sure many mystery readers will have mixed emtions about the news that one of the most-loved characters in mystery fiction is finding new life in the hands of someone other than Agatha Christie. However, this is not the first time a character has been revived by a new author.
There have been six authors who followed Ian Fleming in penning James Bond novels. And while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 4 novels and 56 short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, the famous detective has appeared in hundreds of stories and novels written by dozens of writers.
A number of other popular mystery series are being continuef in the same fashion by other authors. At the time of his death in 2010, Robert B. Parker was writing two series, Spenser, the PI in Boston, and Jesse stone, police chief of Paradise, MA. Since that time, with the approval of the Robert B. Parker estate, author Ace Atkins has written 3 new Spenser novels. The Jesse Stone series continuation is a little more confusing. Michael Brandman, who collaborated for years with Parker and wrote some of the screenplays for the TV adaptations of the Jesse Stone novels, has also written 3 books since Parker's death. However, this year another writer has taken over. Reed Farrel Coleman, author of the Moe Prager series, has been signed to write 4 Jesse Stone mysteries. The first, Robert B. Parker's Blind Spot, will be published on September 9.
Parker's western series in Fiction, featuring Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, is now being written by Robert Knott. My spouse, who loves all three series and their characters, has read all the Atkins, Brandman and Knott books. He likes that the series have continued, but he says, "It's just not quite the same."
In a real twist, Parker himself continued writing Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe series. He first completed Chandler's unfinished Poodle Springs in 1989 and followed that with Perchance to Dream in 1991, a sequel to Chandler's The Big Sleep.
In recent years Jill Paton Walsh has taken on the challenge of reviving Dorothy Sayer's popular sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. At the request of the Sayers Estate, she first completed Thrones and Dominations, begun by Sayers in 1938 and published in 1998. She has since written three Lord Peter mysteries: A Presumption of Death (2003) which was inspired by letters Sayers had written about Lord Peter, The Attenbury Emeralds (2011), and The Late Scholar (2013). The two most recent titles are shelved in the mystery section under Paton Walsh.
Donald Bain, author of the popular "Murder She Wrote" series is now writing mysteries in the Margaret Truman "Capital Crimes" series. The second title, Margaret Truman's Undiplomatic Murder, was released on July 15 and can be found in WPPL's new mystery section in the Reading Room.
Two other series continuations are being written by children of the authors. Anne Hillerman is following her father in crafting the long-running series featuring Navaho tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. Her first novel, Spider Woman's Daughter (2013), focuses on the secondary character of Bernadette (Bernie) Manualito, who now shares the spotlight with Leaphorn and Chee.
in 2007, Felix Francis began collaborating with his father, Dick Francis, on his horse racing mysteries. Felix has written 3 books on his own since his father's death in 2010. All are shelved under Francis in the mystery section. The newest title, Dick Francis's Damage, will be published in October.
There is also a TV tie-in based on Monk, the obsessive-compulsive police detective in San Francisco. 15 titles were written by Lee Goldberg, who also worked on the TV program. He is now writing an FBI series with Janet Evanovich and has passed the Monk series on to Hy Conrad, one of the original writers for the TV show. His newest is Mr. Monk is Open for Business. We are now shelving all the Monk books, both by Goldberg and Conrad, under the title character's name, Monk.
And there is similar news from the Fiction section. Vince Flynn authored the popular Mitch Rapp series until his death last year and now Simon and Schuster and Flynn's estate have commissioned author Kyle Mills to complete the unfinished novel Flynn started before his death. The Survivor is tentatively scheduled to be published in 2015. Two additional Rapp novels by Mills are also part of the arrangement. Mills has written other Fiction titles along with authoring several Robert Ludlum Covert-One titles.
There are lots of titles for you to try and then decide whether they live up to the standards the original authors were known for. There are some big shoes to fill for these new writers.
Next up in some popular mystery series:
Howell, Dorothy - Beach Bags and Burglaries, with amateur sleuth and fashionista Haley Randolph (#8).
Krueger, William Kent - Windigo Island, featuring Minnesota PI Cork O'Connor (#14).
Martin, Nancy - A Little Night Murder, with the Blackbird Sisters (#10).
Penny Louise - The Long Way Home, (did you think Gamache had retired from sleuthing?) (#10).
Pronzini, Bill - Strangers, featuring the Nameless Detective (#38).
Todd, Charles - The Unwilling Accomplice, with Bess Crawford (#6).