“When is a door not a door? When it’s ajar.” A simple riddle that I heard the first time I think on Doctor Who. Applying the same premise to literature we could just as well ask, “When is a James Bond novel not a James Bond novel?” The answer being ever since Ian Fleming died. Except that’s not strictly true. It seems that being dead is no longer a good defence.
In Ian Fleming’s case getting resurrected happened before he was even a long time dead. Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham) published Colonel Sun barely three years after the last Fleming Bond, The Man With The Golden Gun. Since then we’ve had, John Gardner, Christopher Wood, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, and Jeffery Deaver. Not to mention young Bond novels by Charlie Higson. Reinventing 007 for the movies is one thing, grave-robbing Fleming to keep the books alive is something else. There was only one Ian Fleming. In the case of the novels they should have stuck with, You Only Live Once.
It doesn’t end there. When it comes to literary Frankensteins it appears that having your parts revived without the rest of your body is commonplace. Look at Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novels. He wrote three, starting with The Bourne Identity, but Bourne has returned in a further seven, reanimated by Eric Von Lustbader, who sounds like a Mary Shelley creation himself. Being dead didn’t stop Margaret Mitchell’s, Gone With The Wind getting a second outing. Virginia Andrews has apparently been writing from beyond the grave for years. And I’m not sure if James Patterson is actually dead or just working with ghostwriters for the fun of it.
Oh, and by the way I’ve just heard they’re planning on reviving Raymond Chandler’s, Philip Marlowe. Have they no shame?
The spookiest use of the long time dead however comes in TV advertising. It would appear that Hollywood stars need to write a clause in their wills or they’ll end up selling cars like Steve McQueen. Whoever said, “There’ll be plenty of time to sleep when I’m dead,” didn’t reckon with the resurrection factor. Sweet dreams.
Colin Campbell is a retired UK police officer and his Resurrection Man novels are published by Midnight Ink Books. The first, Jamaica Plain, is due out Spring 2013.
Read all posts by Colin Campbell for Criminal Element.