Jack Malaney is an agent with MI-6.
The first time we meet him, he isn't. He is an engineer onboard a Russian fishing trawler in the North Atlantic. Rather a strange occupation for a Scotsman but unique enough to be interesting. An act of heroism in saving a Russian crewman of another nearby vessel who had fallen overboard, or an act of suicidal stupidity to ask any of the other Russians on the ship, would bring a meeting with the female captain of that vessel and that encounter would lead to a whole new line of work.
I especially enjoyed the brief repartee between the MI-6 recruiter and Malaney as when asked by the recruiter how Malaney would feel about serving his country, Malaney asked back if he was needed to play football for Scotland.