How a drab, dumb, decent British civil servant becomes a spy--in unsensational, thoroughly believable, and piteous detail. Stanley Pitts, husband of Beryl, father of little Marleen, is a loser: dresses badly, thinks slowly, and--to ambitious Beryl's fury--has just lost out on the sure-thing promotion at the Admiralty office that was supposed to get them out of debt. Stan's only oasis: his photography hobby, which promises some profit as well as pleasure when an ""agent"" shows interest in Stan's nature studies and coaxes him into undertaking some more saleable sorts of camerawork, like ""artistic nudes."" Stan, thoroughly gulled, obliges--and soon finds himself being blackmailed (innocent but suggestive photos of 'him with the nude models) and offered great sums for yet another kind of photography: naval documents at the office, photographed with a mini-camera-wristwatch. Stan must succumb, of course, and it's only a matter of time before his foolishness and guilt (though he idiotically believes that he's working for an investigative reporter, not a spy) lead to his capture and trial--with an ironic coda in which a journalist covering the trial winds up saddled with the hateful Beryl, whom the author clearly holds responsible for Stan's sad fate. More pathetic than dramatic, and stretched out to undue proportions; but an undeniably impressive job of making a mountain of shudders out of a painfully genteel English lower-middle-class molehill.