In A Bit of a Conundrum

I don’t even really know where to begin, honestly. I didn’t want to have to even discuss this but it seems I’m going to have to. As part of the September batch on the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program, there was a book called Assassin of Secrets by Q.R. Markham. I was lucky and snagged a review copy. My copy came in the mail this week … the same week that it came to light there was a plagiarism issue and that the publisher was pulling all the books. Fun, right? Of course I hopped online and dug into what was really going on. Apparently there were some espionage fans who have found out that there was blatantly obvious plagiarism. And apparently I’m not talking an idea or a few sentences. Apparently there are entire passages. (You can read more about that here) Wow. I don’t even know what to say about this. So here I am with my review copy in hand … and I’m disappointed. Majorly disappointed because I was soooo looking forward to reading this book. Out of the September batch this was honestly the book I wanted to win the most. I was overjoyed when I found that I was going to be getting a copy! And then this happens.

In a way, I can empathize with the author. When I was still in college I was in an English lit class with a pretty tough professor. He was nice enough, but very tough. He sent me an email one day asking me to stop by during his office hours one day that week. I was a little concerned, but not overly. I knew that I had just turned in my rough draft on the big paper we had to do, but I felt as if my writing and research was solid. Let’s just say that I was blindsided when I got into the meeting only to have him tell me that I was facing borderline plagiarism and that he might have to report me. Whoa. My world was rocked that day. I thought my entire college career was over, and I was only a freshman! But I got lucky. It was only my rough draft and when I told him my side of things we both realized that it was a misunderstanding and that I had failed to cite my sources thoroughly enough. He let me re-work my rough draft and when I turned it back in, with sources out the wazoo, all was okay. I learned a lot from that experience. After that, every paper I wrote was cited to the ninth degree. My teachers loved it, my fellow peer reviewers hated it. But I was determined never to let that happen again.

Now, as I stated earlier, I can kind of empathize with the author a little bit. However, my experience was unintentional. And it was not a work of fiction. I have always marveled at how so many authors can come up with so many creative ways to write novels. Book after book published by authors and each one feels so different. So when I learned that there was a plagiarism issue with a book I had received to review, well I was shocked. And disappointed. And angry. Needless to say, LibraryThing’s powers that be have contacted the publisher who has stated that we do not need to return the book, but that we do not need to review it either. And I’m not going to review the book. As much as I am curious to see what the book reads like (since I know that I am not familiar enough with James Bond to find the plagiarized passages), I am determined not to give this “author” a moment of my time.

I also feel as if some editor somewhere has egg on their face. Who reads these books? Who checks for this sort of thing? In the world of the internet and computers, you can’t possibly tell me that there isn’t a quick check on these things. In fact I know there is. My abovementioned professor had access to a database that allowed him to electronically submit every paper he received for a plagiarism check. You cannot tell me that there isn’t some sort of system in the publishing world.

Someone failed. And it’s not just Q.R. Markham. In my opinion, Markham is a disgrace to all the other honest, hard-working authors.

Have any of my other fellow bloggers received this book to review? If so, had you read it before this all came to light? If not, are you still planning on reading this? What do you plan on doing with your copy now? I have seen where interest in this book has gone up because of this scandal. For me, I have no interest in reading this book anymore. But I’m curious how others feel about all of this.

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