Ben Lazenby is a British Cultural Attache.
Considering the great number of espionage novels which had the embassy position filled by KGB, MI-6, or CIA agents, depending of course on the country, it is refreshing to have a spy series in which the Cultural Attache is not really a spy. Naturally there are occasions when the opposition do not believe that Lazenby is not a spy. And there are occasions when his own side ask of him a bit more than an attache would do in the normal execution of his duties.
Nevertheless, Lazenby would be the first, and the second and third, to tell you he is not a spy. He has no desire to be a spy. He has never aspired to be one and would prefer is no one considered it. Lazenby is in the diplomatic corps, likes it, wants to stay in it, and has no aspirations to anything else. Often, unfortunately for Lazenby, one's non-wishes come true despite doing everything one can to stop them.
As the two-book series begins, Lazenby is a happy member of the Foreign Office getting ready for a posting to Hungary. Thirty-eight years old and recently divorced, fairly amicably, he is looking forward to a total change of scenery. He is by no means a lay-about or a shirker but neither would anyone consider him filled with tremendous ambition. A good job with a good home and good food and the occasional company of a good woman are all he is after and being a diplomat, especially a low-level one, gives him that.
Another reason why Lazenby would not want to be considered a spy is that he has no training in it and no desire to get any. Still, some training might have been useful as he is put into situations where knowing a bit of tradecraft would be a good thing. Whether it is behind the Iron Curtain as in the first book or behind the Bamboo one in the second, Lazenby is a non-spy spy.