Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Friends and Traitors

by John Lawton

From a writer the Seattle Times dubbed “solidly at the top of anyone’s A-list of contemporary spy novelists” comes a new novel featuring Inspector Troy of Scotland Yard, a tale of Cold War spy dealings centered around double agent Guy Burgess.

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date October 16, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2862-1
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $17.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date October 03, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2706-8
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date October 03, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-8921-9
  • US List Price $26.00

About the Book

John Lawton’s Inspector Troy series is regularly singled out as of exceptional quality, earning comparisons to John le Carré, Philip Kerr, and Alan Furst. The latest novel in the spy thriller series—written to be read in any order—finds Inspector Troy entangled in Cold War tensions. It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on “the Grand Tour” for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Siena, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries, and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam. After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years—Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: “I want to come home.” Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to debrief Burgess—but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed, and Troy finds himself a suspect. As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him.

Combining richly atmospheric rendering of period and place, wonderfully well drawn characters—several of whom we have met before—with a compelling narrative full of twists and turns, Friends and Traitors will satisfy John Lawton’s many fans and win him new ones.


Friends and Traitors is Lawton’s latest entry in the series, and one of the best. Part murder mystery, part spy tale, the book has a streak of wonderfully dark humor throughout . . . Lawton’s writing here is as sharp as ever . . . It is a wickedly seductive entertainment and more proof, if anyone needed it, that John Lawton is creating some of our finest, and some of our most enjoyably ambiguous historical fiction.”—Washington Post

Friends and Traitors is the latest in [Lawton’s] splendid Inspector Frederick Troy series, an artful blend of two ever-popular subjects: espionage and British police work . . . It’s an extraordinary story—both in history and Lawton’s bold re-imagining. It’s been told many times before, in both fiction and non-fiction, but Lawton has a fresh approach, shaping Friends and Traitors as more of a character study than a standard-issue thriller.”— The Seattle Times

“Mr. Lawton, as in his previous Inspector Troy novels, is a master of creating a feeling of time and place, of amalgamating true-life events into his imaginative plot, of bringing every character, real or fictitious, major or minor, vividly to life. His writing is enormously colorful, his descriptions, whether of people, places or events inevitably convincing . . . Reading this narrative is like watching a newsreel and being sucked into the action. The surprises keep coming, not merely up to the last chapter but even to the novel’s very last line.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Friends and Traitors represents much more than a police procedural or spy thriller . . . The author does a superb job of portraying the mood, class culture and tensions that existed in England and Europe during that era.”—Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine (starred)

“The lives of Scotland Yard detective Frederick Troy and real-life historical figure Guy Burgess, the English traitor who spied for the Russians, intersect in Lawton’s superb eighth Inspector Troy novel . . . [a] smart, fascinating historical thriller.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Our fascination with the Cambridge Five—British spies recruited to serve the Soviet Union while still at university—continues unabated into the twenty-first century; recently attention has shifted [to] Guy Burgess, perhaps the most compelling character of the lot . . . Lawton traces Burgess’ flamboyant life as a dissolute and indiscreet diplomat whose wit and charm somehow managed to shine through the alcoholic haze that constantly enveloped him . . . Burgess emerges as a thoroughly engaging antihero.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Burgess makes a delicious antagonist in this eighth installment in the franchise . . . Lawton, who writes with rueful acumen, puts a human face on the moral and political complexities of the Cold War.”—Kirkus Reviews


Top 12 Mystery Novels of 2017, Strand Magazine


Burgess plonked his briefcase on the coffee table, sloughed off his coat and jacket and began to prattle.

“Odd thing, bumping into you twice so soon. I don’t seem to run into you in any of my clubs. Although I suppose you’re not a clubbable sort of person. Of course your father was. And I’m pretty sure I first met him in one club or another. I forget which. The Reform, Brookes, the Garrick? Come to think of it, it probably was the Garrick. He was a member, wasn’t he? An awfully good choice now that I come to think about it. After all, it’s the actors’ club. Unlikely to be full of fellow-hacks. And I suppose what anyone wants from their club is a haven. Perhaps even an escape. Did he ever put you up for membership? But I suppose policemen aren’t really clubbable, are they?”

Troy hit him in the sternum. More of a tap than blow. Just enough to send Burgess backwards into the sofa.

“How quickly you catch on.”

“Bloody hell,” said Burgess. “I mean, bloody hell.”

“Stop pretending, Guy.”

“Stop pretending what?’

Troy picked up the briefcase. Yanked on one of the many pieces of string holding it together and scattered a dozen sheaves of paper across the table. White, buff and red covers. Every one of them stamped “Secret” or “Top Secret.”

“In case you’ve forgotten, Guy. A red cover means ‘Do Not Remove From Office.’ You didn’t knock your briefcase over accidentally. I know you can be a clumsy fucker, but after one drink? Guy, whisky is to you as mother’s milk is to a baby. It’s the stuff of life. There’s nothing you can do sober that you can’t do pissed. You knocked it over just to be certain you had my attention.”