Arthur Conan Doyle's first book out

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Fan dressed as Sherlock HolmesGetty Images

Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is no longer around to see it but his first book is at last being published. Out today it's called "The Narrative Of John Smith" and it will be interesting to see how it fares - a lot of posthumous books or books based on the works of authors long since dead have done rather nicely in the very recent past.

The book has nothing to do with Sherlock Holmes and predates his creation by three years - the fan in the picture is there purely by way of illustration.

Other deceased writers still working
At least Doyle actually wrote this book, mind. Recent years have seen other characters outliving their creators quite spectacularly - Jeffrey Deaver's Carte Blanche was on the best sellers list and features an updated James Bond; a couple of years ago we had Sebastian Foulkes' take on the same character in "Devil May Care", following six books by Raymond Benson, 18 by John Gardner and one by Kingsley Amis writing under the name Robert Markham.

Maybe you don't like secret agents or detectives and would prefer "Peter Pan in Scarlet" which is apparently an official book but has nothing to do with J M Barrie. Or "The Wind Done Gone" by Alice Randall, a clever(ish) take on "Gone With The Wind" but seen from the point of view of the black characters only.

Kids' stuff
Perhaps you have a daughter who, like many, is entranced by Enid Blyton's St. Claire's books. OK, now have a closer look and you'll notice loads of them are not actually written by Blyton herself but still have her name over the top, almost like a brand.

Similar fates have fallen thriller writers like Len Deighton and Dick Francis, no longer with us but their names still adorn novels they can never read.

This time around at least we have a genuine Doyle book. The only problem is that by his own account the publishers were right to send it back in the first place (in fact they lost it and he had to rewrite it from memory) - in the author's own view, it's not very good.