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He's hot, he's best-selling, and he's dead

The New York Times has an article about the posthumous career of Robert Ludlum, the spy novelist who died six years ago but whose name keeps turning up on new books. Back when he was still with us, Ludlum wrote The Bourne Identity, which has since inspired a hit action movie franchise starring Matt Damon. Now Eric Van Lustbader – a name novelist in his own right – has been writing new Bourne books, co-branded as Ludlum titles. Less prominent authors have also ghostwritten Ludlum-identified titles in recent years, for money but not always for credit. Which kind of lends a double meaning to “ghostwritten.” As the Times notes, the main exemplar for this kind of thing is V.C. Andrews, who died in 1986 but mysteriously keeps churning out books under her own name. And some authors are getting in on the action while they’re still alive: Tom Clancy, James Patterson, and Clive Cussler are all lending their names to books written by others (though in those cases, the co-writers are at least credited).