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The Postmortem Robert Ludlum Cottage Industry

Spy thriller master Robert Ludlum may have died in 2001, but as the New York Times’ Richard Sandomir discovered, that hasn’t stopped publishers from releasing books – a dozen so far – with his name on the cover. 2006 alone saw three Ludlum-branded works: ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE MOSCOW VECTOR, isxth in the “Covert-One” series of paperback originals; THE BANCROFT STRATEGY, and THE BOURNE BETRAYAL, written by Eric Van Lustbader.

“This goes back to 1990 or ’91 when Bob had quadruple bypass,” said Henry Morrison, the agent for Ludlum and his estate. “One day we were talking about what would happen when he was gone. He said, ‘I don’t want my name to disappear. I’ve spent 30 years writing books and building an audience.’” And so the V.C. Andrews-like effect began with writers fleshing out old manuscripts and proposals or as in the Bourne series, extending an already-classic series. “Publishing does look to the past to see what will work in the future,” said PW editor-in-chief Sara Nelson. “Series and big-name authors have tended to work well. Publishers, like executives in other creative fields, want Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to work as well as No. 1. And instead of going off to find the new Ludlum, they figure they’ve got this formula and will continue to use it.”

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