Swedish crime writer denies plagiarism allegations

The Swedish publisher of Liza Marklund and US author James Patterson's crime novel Postcard Killers has denied that the book was inspired by Klas Östergren's The Last Cigarette.

Swedish crime writer denies plagiarism allegations
Liza Marklund and James Patterson (Photo: Peter Jönsson / Salomonsson Agency)

“The allegations lack any factual basis. The writers Liza Marklund and James Patterson have naturally not had any knowledge of the contents of Klas Östergren’s novel The Last Cigarette. All similarities are purely coincidental,” Ann-Marie Skarp, CEO at Piratförlaget (Pirate Publishing) said in a statement released on Thursday.

The publisher of Klas Östergren’s The Last Cigarette, Albert Bonniers Förlag, has hired lawyers to investigate whether the similarities between the two books occurred as a result of plagiarism.

The similarities centre around the use of Swedish artist Nils von Dardel’s painting The Dying Dandy. The books both feature an artist character who photographs bodies in order to recreate von Dardel’s celebrated piece.

“The first time I heard that the The Dying Dandy is also featured in Östergren’s book was in fact yesterday evening. I spoke with Klas Östergren about it this morning and we both had a chuckle,” Liza Marklund said.

“It is one of Sweden’s most famous paintings,” she pointed out.

Postcard Killers is co-authored by Marklund and US crime writer James Pattersson. According to the publisher, the final manuscript was completed in May 2009. The book was published on January 27th 2010 in Sweden.

Klas Östergren’s book The Last Cigarette was published by Albert Bonniers Förlag on October 16th 2009.

Liza Marklund is one of Sweden’s bestselling popular authors and a co-owner of Piratförlaget, alongside Jan Guilou, Sigge Sigridsson and Ann-Marie Skarp.

In 2008 Marklund found herself at the heart of a controversy over her “documentary-novel” Gömda (Buried Alive) which she initially claimed was a true story but later conceded should have been described as “based on a true story.”

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Austrian minister steps down over plagiarism accusations

Austrian minister Christine Aschbacher resigned from her cabinet post in charge of labour, families and youth on Saturday following allegations some of her university work was plagiarised.

Austrian minister steps down over plagiarism accusations
Austrian minister Christine Aschbacher has resigned in the face of plagiarism accusations. Photo: Helmut Fohringer/APA/AFP
A conservative from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz's OeVP party, Aschbacher said she had stepped down to “protect my family”, complaining of “hostility, political agitation and attacks… with unbearable force”.
Aschbacher's 2006 master's thesis displayed “plagiarism, incorrect quotations and lack of knowledge of the German language”, alleged blogger Stefan Weber, who specialises in sniffing out academic fraud.
At the time, she graduated with high marks from the University of Applied Sciences in Wiener Neustadt, south of Austrian capital Vienna.
Weber has levelled the same allegations at a thesis she submitted in May last year — in the depths of the first wave of coronavirus — to the Technical University of Bratislava in neighbouring Slovakia.
He claimed the work contained “never-before-seen depths of gobbledygook, nonsense and plagiarism” and that more than one-fifth of the text had been lifted from other sources without citations, in particular an article from Forbes magazine.
Under attack by the opposition, Aschbacher “rejected” what she called Weber's “insinuations”.
Kurz wrote on Twitter that he “respected” her decision to resign, after the scandal piled pressure on a government facing criticism for its management of the second wave of Covid-19, widely seen as chaotic.
The chancellor added that he would name a successor on Monday.
Academic plagiarism is a regular charge levelled at politicians in the German-speaking world, where leaders often brandish postgraduate qualifications.
In Germany, two conservatives, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Annett Schavan, stepped down from the defence and education ministries in 2011 and 2013 over similar scandals, while current centre-left Families Minister Franziska Giffey has been dogged by plagiarism allegations for years.