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Assassin of Secrets


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#1 terminus

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 12:26 AM

Anyone read this novel? I'm ordering it next month - there's a sample up on the publishers website and it's very Bondian:

http://www.mulhollan...-and-chapter-1/

#2 x007AceOfSpades

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:08 AM

Of what I read It was very good. I just may add this to my Christmas list. Thanks for the share terminus.

#3 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:48 AM

I'm not really a fan of the title. It sounds like something I would have thought was cool when I was thirteen.

#4 terminus

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:16 PM

Have to agree on the title, CT - but the text of the book looks promising!

#5 AMC Hornet

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:44 PM

Why order a copy?

Just read chapter 4 of Licence Renewed. It's all there - the 'matched luggage' from G section, "What's it like to kill a man?", the son et lumiere at 'Frankie''s flat - entire paragraphs copied verbatim from John Gardner's text. No wonder it sounds very Bondian.

I suspect the 'tributes' continue through the rest of the story.

Who 'wrote' Assasin of Secrets, anyway? I smell another Killing Zone here.

Edited by AMC Hornet, 07 November 2011 - 05:12 PM.


#6 terminus

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:50 AM

Well, I first heard of it through Charles Cuming's twitter feed, I believe, and the back cover features a referene by CBn's very own Jeremy Duns', so if it is another Killing Zone, it's fooling a lot of respectable people.

#7 AMC Hornet

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 04:18 AM

Not anyone who knows their Gardner:

Brewster was a big man, tall, broad, bearded, with an expansive personality—a big bearded bastard,” Brewster’s secretary and mistress, the petite, blond Tabitha Peters, was often heard to remark. Not the usual kind of person who made it to a responsible position in the clandestine services. They tended to prefer what were commonly called “invisible men”—ordinary, gray people who could vanish into a crowd like illusionists.

Compare that to the first paragraph of Chapter 5 from Nobody Lives For Ever.

Just a coincidence?

If you want a copy of this book you'd better order one quickly, before it's pulled from distribution by IFP.

Edited by AMC Hornet, 08 November 2011 - 07:01 PM.


#8 dinovelvet

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:14 PM

If you want a copy of this book you'd better order one quickly, before it's pulled from distribution by IFP.


Too late?

http://www.foxnews.c...inment - Mixed)

#9 zencat

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:56 PM

Wow! Interesting. Thanks for this.

So who is the author/plagiarist? Markham obviously is not his real name.

#10 AMC Hornet

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:09 PM

If Jim Hatfield weren't already dead he'd be my prime suspect.

There's one person it surely isn't:

Kingsley Amis.

#11 zencat

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:42 PM

Great work guys. I've put this up on my blog with credit to all of you and a nice quote from Simon Gardner.

http://www.thebookbo...agiarizing.html

Well, I first heard of it through Charles Cuming's twitter feed, I believe, and the back cover features a referene by CBn's very own Jeremy Duns', so if it is another Killing Zone, it's fooling a lot of respectable people.

Odd.

#12 marktmurphy

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 11:10 PM

This is remarkable.

#13 terminus

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 11:12 PM

Yay us :D I do feel slightly stupid for being taken in by this, initially, though.

#14 MattofSteel

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:02 AM

I'm not sure what's worse - a publisher that let it get that far, or an author who thought he could get away with it. Despicable.

#15 Matt_13

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:14 AM

Well that's interesting.

#16 glidrose

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:25 AM

Here's something from Scorpius.

The Mirza smiled now, and Chase thought he could detect the leer of one of the Borgias. "Very simple. Especially for you, Mr. Chase."

Scorpius smiled, and Bond thought he could detect the leer of one of the Borgias. "Very simple. Especially for you, Mr. Bond."

Benson's High Time to Kill also gets the five finger treatment.

It stank like a toilet. Scott was forced to take a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and hold it over his mouth. Other than the rancid smell, the room was empty. Scott immediately went to the stone wall and put his hand out to touch

It stank like a toilet. Harding was forced to take a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and hold it over his mouth. Other than the rancid smell, the room was empty. Harding immediately went to the stone wall and put his hand out to touch

Wonder if the author lifted anything from Christopher Wood. And if any of you haven't already, please take the time to give AMC Hornet positive reputation points. He's earned them. Click here for his expose post.

Edited by glidrose, 09 November 2011 - 01:18 AM.


#17 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 12:54 AM

Wow. It's not like this is an isolated episode. This shows Quentin Rowan, aka Q.R. Markam, engaged in systematic, repeated plagiarism.

I remember reading Stephen King's On Writing, where he recounted the first story he ever wrote as a child was a thinly-veiled retelling of a short he'd seen on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. I said earlier that the title, "Assassin of Secrets" sounded like something a thirteen year-old would find cool. With King's recount in mind, lifting passages from other texts sounds like something a thirteen year-old would do.

#18 doublenoughtspy

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:02 AM

I remember reading Stephen King's On Writing, where he recounted the first story he ever wrote as a child was a thinly-veiled retelling of a short he'd seen on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.


Considering that MST3000 didn't debut until 1988, and King first published in 1966, I highly doubt that story.

#19 Mr. Blofeld

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:21 AM

Actually, it was only a movie he'd seen as a child on TV that would later be covered on MST3K; that movie was Robot Monster.

Just a clarification.

#20 Single-O-Seven

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:44 AM

I wonder if any of our fan fiction is in that book? Wouldn't surprise me.

Not that I want to give this clown a dime, but I kinda want this book as a curiosity! I'm sure it'll vanish soon. The link in the first post has been wiped clean of its existence.

#21 Loomis

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:47 AM

Fascinating - a sort of Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers approach to spy thriller writing. So, did Rowan just copy passages of text and steal turns of phrase, or did he also swipe storylines? Because, obviously, simply throwing huge great wodges of other people's words into a Copy & Paste cauldron - even on an industrial scale - would not result in a plot, or at least not the sort of plot that I'd imagine would impress the publishing world.

I haven't read ASSASSIN OF SECRETS, and don't intend to, but what seems to me to have happened (if I'm understanding things correctly) is that this guy has lifted an awful lot of text from previously published thrillers, presumably in order to make himself seem a much better wordsmith than he really is.

But an impressive facility with words does not, in and of itself, cause people to rush to sign wannabe novelists (I assume), especially in the thriller genre, where I would have thought that an evident ability to fashion a good, gripping, well-constructed plot was the most important weapon for a new author trying to market himself. Which makes me suppose that the main thing that agents and publishers must have found impressive about ASSASSIN OF SECRETS must have been its plot.

But a page from, say, early Gardner followed by four pages of Le Carré followed by two pages of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM followed by half a page of the TOMORROW NEVER DIES novelization with dialogue from DEVIL MAY CARE sprinkled on top.... Well, all of that may certainly provide one with several pages of text that at first glance look as though they were written by a professional novelist or by an unpublished writer who's clearly capable of writing to a professional standard, but it certainly wouldn't be likely to provide one with a plot (or at least not a very good one). Such a ruse may well enable a manuscript to pass the initial "glance test" and therefore be lifted from the "slush pile" and actually read.... but surely what clinches the deal is the story it tells?

Is it a good yarn? Does it grip the reader? Is it topical? Is it marketable? Does it chime with successful works in the same genre, while at the same time offering a bit of originality and freshness? Are the characters interesting, and would they be castable for a film adaptation? Is there scope for a sequel or a series of books? I have no experience of the publishing game, but I would guess that those are some of the questions that agents/publishers ask themselves when reading manuscripts by novice novelists. Of course, they must also ask themselves "Is this thing well-written?", but that question can hardly be the be-all-and-end-all.

And so I assume that people must have seen much more of value in ASSASSIN OF SECRETS than simply lots of pages of competently-written prose with the occasional memorable description or line of dialogue. I assume that, fundamentally, its readers kept reading because they were entertained by the story. If its story were as disjointed as one might imagine from the act of chucking passages from various thrillers into a blender, I'd find it hard to believe that anyone would have read the book to the end, let alone wanted to publish it.

So, then, I wonder how Rowan came up with a plot that was evidently good enough to get ASSASSIN OF SECRETS published. Was it all his own work?

#22 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:58 AM

I particularly enjoyed this quote from Markham:

"Once I'd gotten into the mindset of a Cold War-era superspy, it was hard to leave. I began to notice certain similarities between my day job and my night-time work."

Riiiight.

Actually, it was only a movie he'd seen as a child on TV that would later be covered on MST3K; that movie was Robot Monster.

Just a clarification.

Right. Thank you. I read On Writing quite a while ago, and since I'm in the middle of fourteen job applications at the moment, the details get scrambled easily. But you're right; I do believe Robot Monster was the film that influenced King.

I haven't read ASSASSIN OF SECRETS, and don't intend to

I don't think anyone will read it now.

but what seems to me to have happened (if I'm understanding things correctly) is that this guy has lifted an awful lot of text from previously published thrillers, presumably in order to make himself seem a much better wordsmith than he really is.

I think that this Markham character was in love with the notion that he could be like Fleming and le Carre, and so pilfered from several authors to elevate himself to their level.

Which makes me suppose that the main thing that agents and publishers must have found impressive about ASSASSIN OF SECRETS must have been its plot.

Apparently the plot revolved around a shadowy organisation that was in the business of kidnapping and killing spies.

But a page from, say, early Gardner followed by four pages of Le Carré followed by two pages of THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM followed by half a page of the TOMORROW NEVER DIES novelization with dialogue from DEVIL MAY CARE sprinkled on top.... Well, all of that may certainly provide one with several pages of text that at first glance look as though they were written by a professional novelist or by an unpublished writer who's clearly capable of writing to a professional standard, but it certainly wouldn't be likely to provide one with a plot (or at least not a very good one). Such a ruse may well enable a manuscript to pass the initial "glance test" and therefore be lifted from the "slush pile" and actually read.... but surely what clinches the deal is the story it tells?

The passages weren't directly copied from those other works. They were lifted, modified, and dropped into Assassin of Secrets. There are a whole lot of examples here.

#23 Matt_13

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:58 AM

Here's something from Scorpius.

The Mirza smiled now, and Chase thought he could detect the leer of one of the Borgias. "Very simple. Especially for you, Mr. Chase."

Scorpius smiled, and Bond thought he could detect the leer of one of the Borgias. "Very simple. Especially for you, Mr. Bond."

Benson's High Time to Kill also gets the five finger treatment.

It stank like a toilet. Scott was forced to take a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and hold it over his mouth. Other than the rancid smell, the room was empty. Scott immediately went to the stone wall and put his hand out to touch

It stank like a toilet. Harding was forced to take a handkerchief from his jacket pocket and hold it over his mouth. Other than the rancid smell, the room was empty. Harding immediately went to the stone wall and put his hand out to touch

Wonder if the author lifted anything from Christopher Wood. And if any of you haven't already, please take the time to give AMC Hornet positive reputation points. He's earned them. Click here for his expose post.


WOW. That's so bad.

#24 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 01:59 AM

I wonder what Quentin Rowan has to say for himself in all of this?

I doubt the world will hear from him again any time soon. No publisher is going to want to go near him.

#25 Major Tallon

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:05 AM

Well done to the folks on this forum who have been instrumental in bringing this situation to light.

Congratulations, guys.

#26 Single-O-Seven

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:07 AM

I wonder what Quentin Rowan has to say for himself in all of this?

I doubt the world will hear from him again any time soon. No publisher is going to want to go near him.



I wonder what the phone call from his publisher was like when they realised what he had done? I wonder what action they take against an author - recall any advances, sue for costs incurred printing a now-unsellable book...?

Yeah, he is black-balled quite nicely now.

#27 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:12 AM

I wonder what the phone call from his publisher was like when they realised what he had done?

I'd say it was icy, with a chance of fire and brimstone.

I wonder what action they take against an author - recall any advances, sue for costs incurred printing a now-unsellable book...?

Probably all of the above - and more - but as I understand it, Assassin of Secrets was intended to be Markham's debut novel, so the losses would be minimal. And I daresay they would be offset by the parent publishing house, which probably has provisions for this sort of thing.

#28 Loomis

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:16 AM

The passages weren't directly copied from those other works. They were lifted, modified, and dropped into Assassin of Secrets.


Sure (although sometimes the only "modifying" was changing a character's name, right?), but that would hardly provide one with a viable plot, either.

#29 Matt_13

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:20 AM

Was it CBn members exclusively that brought this to light?

#30 007jamesbond

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 02:22 AM

It seem fishy with the title.....wow why would he do this? Is he going to jail? sue? he is surely going to get sue for doing this, it pretty serious




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