Debut Novelist Accused of Plagiarism

On Tuesday, the AP reported the withdrawal of Q.R. Markham’s Assassin of Secrets spy novel by his publisher, Little, Brown and Company after they discovered that the writer had “lifted from a variety of classic and contemporary spy novels.”

Released in paperback last week, the publisher asked that stores return copies of the novel. Customers who purchased the book will receive a refund for the purchase of the book. The two-book deal that Little, Brown signed Markham to has been canceled:

“We take great pride in the writers and books we publish and tremendous care in every aspect of our publishing process, so it is with deep regret that we have published a book that we can no longer stand behind,”  said Little, Brown president Michael Pietsch. “Our goal is to never have this happen, but when it does, it is important to us to communicate with and compensate readers and retailers as quickly as possible.”

The previously published novels Markham is said to have plagiarized include Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and works by Robert Ludlum and Charles McCarry.

According to the Associated Press, the publishers “declined to offer examples of passages in question and would not say how [they] learned of the similarities.” However, blogger Edward Champion of Reluctant Habits has posted a comparison of  Markham’s excerpts and those he is said to have taken from:

Markham, p. 13: ‘His step had an unusual silence to it. It was late morning in October of the year 1968 and the warm, still air had turned heavy with moisture, causing others in the long hallway to walk with a slow shuffle, a sort of somber march.’

Taken from p. 1 of James Bamford’s Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency: ‘His step had an unusual urgency to it. Not fast, but anxious, like a child heading out to recess who had been warned not to run. It was late morning and the warm, still air had turned heavy with moisture, causing others on the long hallway to walk with a slow shuffle, a sort of somber march.’

Markham, p. 13: ‘The boxy, sprawling Munitions Building which sat near the Washington Monument and quietly served as I-Division’s base of operations was a study in monotony. Endless corridors connecting to endless corridors. Walls a shade of green common to bad cheese and fruit. Forests of oak desks separated down the middle by rows of tall columns, like concrete redwoods, each with a number designating a particular work space.’

Bamford, p. 1: ‘In June 1930, the boxy, sprawling Munitions Building, near the Washington Monument, was a study in monotony. Endless corridors connecting to endless corridors. Walls a shade of green common to bad cheese and fruit. Forests of oak desks separated down the middle by rows of tall columns, like concrete redwoods, each with a number designating a particular work space.’”

Read Champion’s full post here.

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