By Art Taylor
Not only are Meredith Cole and I at opposite ends of the week's schedule, but I've learned over my year here at Criminal Minds that we're frequently at least a little at odds on the issues as well (see the zombies discussion from a couple of weeks back)—all of which makes for a good panel discussion, I hope!
This week's question: "Sophie Hannah continued Poirot and Sebastian Faulks continued Bond.
What character would you most like to write about, if the estate asked
you?" Meredith's firm answer about such a proposal: "I'm against it." Meanwhile, here on Friday and at the further end of the spectrum, I find such projects and the process behind it—the artistic process—fascinating.
Fall for the Book last September, talking about the first-ever Hercule Poirot novel not written by Agatha Christie, Sophie Hannah discussed in some depth the assumptions about money (it's not a simple answer) and about her own interests in writing what she called "a continuation novel" and the choices that had to be made in that regard. (GMU-TV filmed the event, which I helped to organize, so do check out the clip to Hannah's own take on all this.)
And certainly, there are such "continuation novels" written that fall short in any number of ways—the challenges not hardly met. I reviewed Benjamin Black's The Black-Eyed Blonde: A Philip Marlowe Novel for the Washington Post (see the review here), and I thought it was poorly conceived and almost dreadfully executed. Missteps can surely be made.
William Boyd's Solo, reviewed here—and think it's the best of the bunch so far. I'll be first in line to get the next one too: Anthony Horowitz's Murder on Wheels, due out later this year.
And in terms of other authors playing around with icons in their own writings—how many Sherlock Holmes pastiches, parodies, homages, etc. etc. are out there? And aren't fans of the originals often delighted by many, many, many of those revisitations and reinventions of that character?
reviewed that one for the Post too—which apparently means I'm making a career out of writing about such projects.
The asterisk, of course, is that continuing Nick and Nora beyond Hammett's final book has already been done—in a variety of ways, with more possibilities ahead, even if not in a new novel. But oh! what fun it would be just to spend some time on this side of the keyboard with that pair! Crime story meets comedy of manners, sophistication meets street smarts, suspense with a side of screwball humor, witty dialogue, sexual innuendo, and—of course—cocktails for all!
finalists for this year's Agatha Awards, to be presented Saturday, May 2, at Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland. "The Odds Are Against Us" was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (cover right), and "Premonition" appeared in the anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Homicidal Holidays, published by Wildside Press in conjunction with the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Both stories are linked here—free reading!—and I hope folks will enjoy. And stay tuned for my next appearance here at Criminal Minds, since plans are afoot for me to host the other short story finalists—Kathy Lynn Emerson, Barb Goffman, and Edith Maxwell—for a discussion of all of our stories! See you for that on Friday, February 20!