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"This is a very funny novel in the mold of Vladimir Nabokov's Invitation to a Beheading, and it's as entertaining as it is astute. A sharp comic novel that unpacks the evils of authoritarianism."

Kirkus Reviews


"The most fun spy thriller we've read in ages. The helter-skelter plot involv(es) a hapless revolutionary party, an alluring belly dancer, two hotels with almost exactly the same name - oh, and plans to assassinate the king. 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."

Apple Books 


"An odyssey that seems part Kafka, part Alice In Wonderland."

The Wall Street Journal


"Payne's stellar debut pokes hilarious fun at spy fiction through the exploits of a fishmonger named Orlov. The blend of action and picaresque buffoonery flatteringly calls Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard tales to mind. This auspicious debut announces a bright new voice in comic suspense."

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) 


"As witty as it is engaging. A picaresque take on the classic spy story of the innocent outsider... recalling early Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, with a little of Vladimir Voinovich thrown in."

CIA: Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf


"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


"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." 

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, Middlesex University