September 19, 2007

WOULD ANYONE EVEN NOTICE...:

The Ludlum conspiracy: The real mystery about Robert Ludlum is how he has managed to write no fewer than 12 new bestsellers in the six years since his death (Rob Sharp, September 15, 2007, The Age)

MYSTERY. Conspiracy. Identity. If a book were to tell the story of Robert Ludlum, these would be its themes. A successful actor and theatre producer who turned his hand to popular fiction, Ludlum practically cornered the market in dense, paranoid, meticulously researched thrillers for 30 years.

By the time of his death in 2001, he had sold 210 million books - a figure only exceeded by J.K. Rowling. One of the hottest properties at the cinema box office in the past couple of months has been The Bourne Ultimatum, the third instalment of a $US500 million-grossing movie franchise based on Ludlum's best-known character, starring Matt Damon as an amnesiac spy.

Yet for all the sales figures and superlatives, it is somehow fitting that a novelist who specialised in complex conspiracy theories and international espionage should have left behind a conundrum to baffle even Bourne himself.

In the years since his death, 12 new works bearing his name have hit the bookshelves and beach-towels of the world. None was penned by Ludlum himself - and at least three have not been credited to any other writer.

These include The Bancroft Strategy, published last year, which sold 102,000 copies in hardback alone. Like Bourne, whose life after death underscores the basis of the film trilogy, so, too, has his creator found a new identity in his afterlife.

The truth behind how Ludlum achieved immortality is elusive. During his lifetime, Ludlum surrounded himself with a tight circle of associates - those from the worlds of theatre and publishing, and other authors - who have remained intensely loyal to the memory of the modest-living multi-millionaire.

His estate is similarly evasive about claims that an army of secretive ghost-writers is producing books under the Ludlum name. What is clear is that Ludlum's final wish, for his work to live on beyond his death, has been achieved.


...if you just kept releasing the same Ludlum over and over under different titles?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 19, 2007 4:10 PM
Comments

Works for Frank Zappa.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 19, 2007 4:23 PM
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