The Hand of the Necromancer was published in 1996 by Dial Books for Young readers. It is the first book in the "John Bellairs" series to be written entirely by Brad Strickland. Using characters and working on new plot lines inspired by John Bellairs, Mr. Strickland begins shaping the series solo at this point.
Once again, Edward Gorey has created a color wrap around dust jacket painting and a black & white frontis illustration for this title. While perfectly serviceable, Mr. Gorey's work on this book lacks a spark of inspiration and drama he exhibits on other titles from the series.
It is not unusual for a popular book series to continue after the death of the original author. L. Frank Baum wrote fifteen Oz books beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. Mr. Baum died in May 1919, and his two final books were published after his death (The Magic of Oz in 1919 & Glinda of Oz in 1920). In 1921, the publisher continued the series with author Ruth Plumly Thompson. Unlike the Bellairs series, Miss Thompson's first Oz outing, The Royal Book of Oz, was published under Baum's name. She would go on to publish 19 titles in the series. Another similarity between the Bellairs and Oz book series is the continuation of the illustrator (Edward Gorey for Bellairs, John R. Neill for Oz), giving the books a cohesive look after the change of authors.
For more information on the Oz book series, go to theozenthusiast.blogspot.com.