Dead man’s shoes: a top 10 of literary ventriloquism

As Anthony Horowitz joins the list of Bond authors with his new novel Trigger Mortis, we bring you 10 books that have brought back the voices of much loved works

Anthony Horowitz’s James Bond novel Trigger Mortis isn’t his first foray into literary ventriloquism. The British author has published two Sherlock Holmes tribute novels to wide acclaim
jfWide Sargasso Sea (1966), Jean Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea acts as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, told from the perspective of the madwoman in the attic. An extension of a story as opposed to a continuation of a novel, Rhys nevertheless reimagines the voice of the beautiful and fragile Antoinette Cosway, years before she is shipped to England to start her new life as Bertha Rochester. Perhaps the best example of an author taking a classic work of literature and turning her response to it into another classic.

dfghdColonel Sun (1968), Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis was the first author to continue the Bond series after Ian Fleming died in 1964. Best known for his acclaimed novel Lucky Jim, the English author wrote Colonel Sun under the pseudonym Robert Markham. In a departure from Fleming’s books, Amis sets the action around a political intrigue involving a communist Chinese colonel, a former Nazi commander and a Greek spy working for the Russians. With the help of the latter, Bond is tasked with tracking down the kidnapped M in the midst of an international crisis. Other authors who have subsequently taken up the mantle include John Gardner, Jeffrey Deaver, Sebastian Faulks and William Boyd.

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And Another Thing (2009), Eoin Colfer

Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer is behind the sixth instalment of Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. Published by Penguin on the 30th anniversary of the first book, Colfer’s title is taken from Adams’s fourth novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Adams wrote the other five titles in the “trilogy” himself, but prior to his death he spoke about the need for a sixth book: “People have said, quite rightly, that Mostly Harmless is a very bleak book. I would love to finish Hitchhiker on a slightly more upbeat note, so five seems to be a wrong kind of number; six is a better kind of number.”

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Devil May Care (2008), Sebastian Faulks

Published by Penguin to mark the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth, Devil May Care is set in 1967, following the events of Fleming’s last novel The Man with the Golden Gun. Faulks, best known for his wartime novel Birdsong, decided to write the continuation story “as Ian Fleming”, with this credit carried on the book’s cover. Instructed by M to investigate Dr Julius Gorner and his bodyguard Chagrin, Bond flies to Iran to infiltrate Gorner’s supposedly legitimate pharmaceutical factories. Continuing on from Fleming’s novel, Faulks presents a Bond in mourning after the death of his wife, with MI6 keeping a close eye on his performance. Faulks went on to write the first official PG Wodehouse Jeeves and Wooster continuation, with Jeeves and the Wedding Bells published in 2013.

The House of Silk (2011), Anthony Horowitz

Horowitz’s upcoming Bond novel Trigger Mortis isn’t his first foray into literary ventriloquism. The British author has published two Sherlock Holmes tribute novels to wide acclaim. Praised as the contemporary equal of Holmes’s original, The House of Silk was the first time the Conan Doyle estate approved a literary rebirth of the world famous detective. Set in modern London, the plot centres on a gang of Irish robbers who destroy the paintings of an art dealer. As Holmes helps unravel the mystery, he is framed for murder and sent to prison.

Death Comes to Pemberley (2011), PD James

The big M for marriage in Jane Austen’s classic turns to murder in the hands of English crime writer PD James. Beginning six years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, the first part of James’s novel summarises the history of the Bennett family and introduces a murder on the Pemberley estate. A pastiche in the style of Austen, the novel was well received. James came up with the idea as she approached her 90th birthday, “a time of important decision-making, since I had become increasingly aware that neither years nor creative energy last forever”.

Silver: Return to Treasure Island (2012), Andrew Motion

“The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them,” says Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, leaving the seas wide open for sequels. Robert Louis Stevenson chose not to return, but picking up where he left off in 1883 is Andrew Motion’s novel Silver. Setting his naval adventures a generation later, Motion pairs Jim Hawkins’s son with Nat, the daughter of Long John Silver, and sends the two unlikely shipmates off to finish their fathers’ business.

The Black-Eyed Blonde (2014), John Banville

With his literary novels and his Benjamin Black Dublin noir series, John Banville is no stranger to switching identities as he writes. The Black-Eyed Blonde is the Irish author’s 23rd novel, in which Raymond Chandler’s famous LA detective Philip Marlowe returns to seek out danger at the behest of a beautiful woman. Heiress Clare Cavendish, of Irish immigrant heritage, asks Marlowe to track down her former lover Nico. Written under the Benjamin Black alias, the author sends his detective, as restless and solitary as ever, down the mean streets of LA in search of answers.

The Monogram Murders (2014), Sophie Hannah

Ninety-four years after the publication of Agatha Christie’s first novel, her estate approved a new book featuring the Dame’s best-loved creation, Hercule Poirot. Having supper in a London tea house, Poirot encounters a young woman about to be murdered, who, in a nice twist, asks the Belgian detective not to find or punish her murderer. Later that evening, three corpses are discovered in the same London hotel, each with a monogrammed cufflink in its mouth. This intriguing set-up from Sophie Hannah mirrors the complex and thoughtful plots of her own bestselling crime fiction.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015), David Lagercrantz

The fourth instalment of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium series is the first book since the Swedish author’s death in 2004. Picking up the pen is another Swedish journalist and writer, David Lagercrantz, who was given free rein by the Larsson estate. Lagercrantz has said that he has not tried to match Larsson’s “journalistic authority” but has remained true to the storylines and characters. That girl Lisbeth Salander is back, chasing down her past after a chance memory from childhood. Journalist Mikael Blomkvist also makes a return. Blomkvist is stuck up in a rut, until the Spider Society and their criminal activities cross paths with a renowned computer scientist and his autistic son.