John Tibbett is an agent with MI-5.
He was a thief for most of his adult life, although being only in his late 20's, that is not saying that much, especially as his career as a thief was largely spent behind bars. Described by a man recounting Tibbett's life as a criminal, he was, in British slang, "small beer", not amounting to much. Tibbett himself acknowledges that his aspirations as a crook had never been that high and his inclinations to steal came more from sudden impulses than real larcenous tendencies.
Furthermore, as Tibbett explains, he was not very good at it, having vertigo when heights get too much as well as a knack for tripping over things or just not paying attention, as when while sneaking out of a store he had just broken into late at night, he backs into a policeman calmly awaiting his egress. A total of four years had spent in prison for three different sentences, a period of time described by one man as a "total waste" but philosophically rationalized by Tibbett as giving him "a chance to read".
Down on his luck with the certainty that if he returned to his life of crime, he would soon be back behind bars, Tibbett is surprised to be given a job handing out leaflets for what was really a lot of money and that was his introduction into the shady world of cloak and dagger. He did not know it was espionage work but he was bright enough to know it had to be shady. Still, if they were paying him so well for doing so little, and that little was legal, why not?
Things get decidedly better for Tibbett when one of the group hiring him, a delectable young woman named Marion Anderson whom Tibbett immediately nicknames Max, shows up and take a fancy to him. This fancy is most definitely reciprocated and Tibbett, still knowing something was not on the up and up, decided that if cockeyed meant good pay and gorgeous lover, cockeyed was alright. Then Tibbett finds floating in tub at his rented flophouse the murdered body of the man who had first hired him and cockeyed became not so good.
In this two-book series, Tibbett first unofficially joins MI-5, led by the monocled Colonel Carruthers for whom Max really worked, to help in an assignment. Then, deciding that work, as dangerous as it was, was interesting, he joins the spy organization as a real agent, trained and everything.
He is still prone to backing into the wrong person at the worst time as well as tripping over things and his vertigo has never gone away. He does, though, somehow get the job down.
And there is always Max.