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Publisher pulls spy novel after alleged plagiarism

books Updated: Nov 09, 2011 06:16 IST

Associated press
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A debut spy novel, Q.R. Markham's Assassin of Secrets, was pulled on Tuesday after its publisher said it discovered that numerous passages had allegedly been taken from other sources.

Little, Brown and Company said the book, released last week as a paperback original, included material "lifted from a variety of classic and contemporary spy novels" and that stores should return any copies. Customers who purchased the book can return it for a refund from the seller, who will in turn be compensated by the publisher.

Little, Brown had signed Markham, 35, to a two-book deal and said the second novel 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," Little, Brown president Michael Pietsch said in a statement. "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."

According to a Little, Brown spokeswoman, Nicole Dewey, Assassin of Secrets borrowed from Ian Fleming's James Bond novels and fiction by Robert Ludlum and Charles McCarry. Dewey declined to offer examples of passages in question and would not say how the publisher learned of the similarities.

Markham's novel was published by Little, Brown's Mulholland Books, which specializes in "suspense fiction." As of Tuesday afternoon, Assassin on Secrets ranked No. 43,966 on

The novel tells of top CIA operative Jonathan Chase and his battle against "Zero Directorate," which captures and kills agents. Publishers Weekly had praised the book as "quirky" and "entertaining," and noted that the "obvious Ian Fleming influence just adds to the appeal."

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