Tibbett_John2 Tibbett_John1
Full Name: John Tibbett
Nationality: British
Organization: MI5
Occupation Agent

Creator: Laurence Payne
Time Span: 1969 - 1971


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.


Number of Books:2
First Appearance:1969
Last Appearance:1971

1 Spy For Sale Spy For Sale
Written by Laurence Payne
Copyright: 1969

Because he has an close resemblance to a young German scientist who is defecting to England, John Tibbett is asked to help as a decoy, first by the bad guys pretending to be good guys and then by the good guys trying to fool the bad guys.

2 Even My Foot's Asleep Even My Foot's Asleep
Written by Laurence Payne
Copyright: 1971

Now a full-fledged member of MI-5, straight out of the training camp, John Tibbett is given the assignment to track down a missing British agent last seen in Nice. Things hardly start off well when shortly after arriving, he is thrown from an eighth floor window but then things get even worse.


These two books are light-hearted and fun but by no means silly. The writing style is pithy while also being full-bodied. Scenes are clearly described and characters made real enough that you can see them, and then given nicknames that keep you in the game even when two bad guys are named Smythe and Smith.

It is also sprinkled delightfully with observations such as "I have always cherished the theory that the French speak French to confuse the foreigner. They speak English when they're alone, like everyone else."

The book jackets, and perhaps my own write-up, make the picture of a bungler but Tibbett is most certainly not that, at least not always. He is a tad untrained and perhaps not as observant of some things as he might be but he is a very intelligent man who just happens to not be the perfect agent.

He comes pretty close to being a perfect agent to read about, though, especially when Max is around.


My Grade: B+


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