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Book Review: CITIZEN ORLOV by Jonathan Payne

In an unnamed country after the Great War, a fishmonger named Orlov answers a phone call meant for a secret agent, and that one call sends him spiraling into the world of espionage. His first assignment: Safeguard the king from an assassination attempt. But not all is as it seems, and the femme fatale Agent Zelle has other ideas for Orlov.

CITIZEN ORLOV, the debut novel from Jonathan Payne, is a "fish-out-of-water" spy novel. The story is fast moving and the dry humor never gets in the way of the drama. Orlov, the book's protagonist, is a bit like James Bond, if James Bond were played by Charlie Chaplin. In Orlov, Payne creates a character that is charmingly-inept, yet one for whom you can't help but cheer. The buffoonish nature of his protagonist adds to the overall satire that is interweaved throughout the novel.


The book has all the usual elements you'd expect from a classic spy novel, including secret plots, assassination attempts, political intrigue, and a femme fatale. But all these elements are wrapped up within a thin veil of satire that makes this book a light-hearted, witty read. CITIZEN ORLOV is a quirky, stand out spy thriller that is funny, entertaining, and suspenseful. Think John Buchan meets Monty Python.

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