Posted: January 7, 2012 in review, spy story, USA

I was inspired, perhaps encouraged is a better word to go back and read The Tears of Autumn because it was recently plagiarized by Q.R.Markham in Assassin of Secrets. Even though I had read it thirty years ago because of my failing memory I came to it eagerly as a new book. There advantages to getting older. 

The Tears of Autumn is an intelligently written intriguing spy story featuring secret agent  and poet Paul Christopher set during the weeks following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Christopher works out who, and more importantly why the President was killed, and this puts him in danger from both people in the White House and those that organized the killing. I won’t say more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil the dangerous journey of discovery through which Christopher and the reader are taken across Europe, Asia and Africa. It is an easy read and a masterpiece of concise story telling weighing in at only 276 pages. 

The contrast between clever drawing room chatter dialogue, and the violent action scenes is stunning and it is sometimes hard to believe the book was written as long ago as 1975.

“Oh, we’re all going to be very respectful, Tom. I do think this administration has raised the whole tone of American life. Why, Peggy McKinley has been reading Proust in the original French and learning the names of all the new African countries. She says the people of Zimbabwe want rice and respect. I always thought they wanted money.”

” Sybille, how about making this your last martini?” Webster said.

Author Charles McCarry was during the Cold War an intelligence officer operating under deep cover in Europe , Africa and Asia, and he has put much of his knowledge and experience into this book. No wonder it was plagiarized, brilliant stuff.

I shall be reading more spy stories over the next few months as part of a personal challenge.     

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Norman – That’s definitely something I need to do – go back and read some things that I haven’t in a long time. I think one gets a totally different perspective on something if one reads it at a different time in life. I must look this one up again myself…

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ve been following some of the comments on plagiarism. I’m glad at least it means that the original author is being read again.

  3. kathy d. says:

    I don’t think this book is my cup of tea, but you’ve reminded me that I can read books I read years ago and be none the worse for wear. It’s a dilemma as there are so many new books out, but in years to come, I’ll be rereading many.

  4. Norman says:

    Thanks Margot, Sarah and Kathy.
    I think all McCarry’s books are being reissued, and it seems this dates from before the plagiarism scandal so why Rowan/Markham didn’t realise someone would spot it I don’t know.

    Re-reading books can be an interesting experience especially if you are a very different person from when you first read it 30 years ago. 😉
    With the economic downturn I think many of us will be demolishing our TBR piles and re-reading books rather than spending on new untried books.

  5. kathy d. says:

    There is always the library and used book and thrift shops. You are lucky to have Oxfam book sales over there.

    Our library branch has zip. Books have been culled. Only “bestsellers” which are unreadable are there. However, the online reserve system is good, although there are not many global mysteries being purchased.

    I pursue books though whatever way I can get them.

    As I worry that I have read 8 Montalbano books, and thought only 5 were left, I learned of 2 more books coming out. But I’ll be rereading all of them eventually.

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