Citizen Orlov (Hardcover)

Citizen Orlov By Jonathan Payne Cover Image
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“[An] enjoyable comic fable . . .” —Wall Street Journal

This auspicious debut announces a bright new voice in comic suspense.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Not every fishmonger can be a secret agent.

Journey to an unnamed mountainous country in central Europe at the end of the Great War. Enter Citizen Orlov, a simple fishmonger and an honest, upright citizen, who answers a phone call meant for a secret agent and stumbles into a hidden world of espionage and secrecy. Recruited by the Ministry of Security, he is sent on assignment to safeguard the king.

But Orlov soon discovers that his ministry handler, the alluring femme fatale Agent Zelle, is planning not to protect the king but to assassinate him. Caught in a web of plot and counterplot, confusing loyalties, and explosive betrayals, Orlov finds himself on trial for murder. Given the opportunity to clear his name, he finds that the lives of his friends, mother, and fellow citizens hang in the balance.

About the Author

Jonathan Payne is a British-American writer based outside Washington, D.C. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Novel Writing from Middlesex University, London. His short fiction has been featured at the North London Story Festival and in magazines including Turnpike, Twist in Time and Fiction Kitchen Berlin. Before moving to the United States, he worked for the British government on matters of national security. When not writing or reading, he can be found in the boxing gym. Follow him at and on Twitter @jon7payne.

Praise For…

“[An] enjoyable comic fable—one that may cause readers to think twice about ever answering someone else’s phone.” Wall Street Journal

“The blend of action and picaresque buffoonery flatteringly calls Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard tales to mind, and Payne pulls off a genuinely surprising conclusion. This auspicious debut announces a bright new voice in comic suspense.” Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“This is the most fun spy thriller we’ve read in ages . . . First-time novelist Jonathan Payne mixes Franz Kafka’s surreal absurdism with the ingenious plotting of Graham Greene’s spy novels, then adds a hilarious layer of deadpan comedy. Written in short chapters filled with exciting left turns, Citizen Orlov barrels along. We wouldn’t mind at all if this turned out to be the start of a series.” —Apple Books Review

“Jonathan Payne's Citizen Orlov is a stunning debut! A page turning, down-the-rabbit-hole delight, told with equal measure of wit and suspense. A timeless classic for our current moment; a paranoid and comic thriller with a surprise on every page. I loved it!” —Don Scardino, Producer/Director, 30 Rock, New Amsterdam

“A triumph—and an answer to that age-old question of what would have happened had Gogol, Kafka and G. K. Chesterton collaborated on a thriller. A timeless work which will, I fear, be forever timely.” —Dixe Wills, author of Places to Hide and New World Order

“Highly engaging, and written with an engaging lightness of touch, Citizen Orlov marks the debut of a comic novelist to watch for the future.” —Dr. Adam Lively, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing & Programme Leader, MA Novel Writing, Middlesex University

“BEING THERE meets CATCH-22 in this by turns raucous, nail-biting and hilarious send-up of government corruption and bureaucratic incompetence. With an assured voice and wit to spare, Jonathan Payne is a writer on the rise.” —E.G. Scott, international bestselling author of THE RULE OF THREE

Product Details
ISBN: 9780744309010
ISBN-10: 0744309018
Publisher: CamCat Books
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English