Max Thorne is an agent with the Russian FSB.
He was born Maximillian Thornichinovich. His friends call him Maxim.
When we first encounter him, Thorne has been working for the FSB for three years as a "transporter", a transport and escort agent for high-risk operations. Criminals and enemy agents are caught all over the country and the world and since that means they are never where the authorities want them to be for interrogation, trial, and incarceration, they have to be moved. And since these transportees are often hardened men and women capable of inflicting serious or fatal wounds with little or no weapons, having someone able to handle them during transit is vital. Unfortunately for Thorne's self-esteem, "it was true that FSB operatives, especially covert agents - the ones who liked to call themselves 'true spies' - despised transporters, considering them not really agents".
Thorne knows first hand how dangerous the work was. He has a scar from a bullet wound in his left arm and another scar on his face to show the peril. He is also suffering the pains of demotion for a mission that went from nothing to horrible in a matter of minutes [told in the first novella]. Growing tired of catching the blame for things not his fault and having to deal with a supervisor who had once been a fine field agent but was proving that management required a new set of skills, Thorne wants a change. He will get it.
In his personal life, Thorne has little to brag about. He is not unattractive having a pleasant enough face, short, clean-cut brown hair, and "a nose that belonged to a Rembrandt painting", long and narrow. But he has no social life worth mentioning. "He hadn't been very successful in attracting women's attention. He had dated when he was in high school and university while pursuing his degree in business management, but those relationships were shallow and had ended in disappointment. Once he had started to work for the FSB, his attention had shifted. He was immersed in the never-ending workload, and his assignments made for an unpredictable lifestyle. The FSB had given him not only the badge of status, the symbol of authority and power that it represented, but also a sense of purpose, belonging, and direction, which he deeply needed at that point in his life. Despite the constant repetition from his adoptive mother that he was a 'star ready to shine and brighten someone's world', Maxim doubted that would ever come true. What he had gained in work prowess and confidence, he had lost in the matters of the heart. While he didn't think twice about walking into any prison and escorting the worst terrorist for his day in court, he just couldn't find the words to talk to a member of the opposite sex."
As indicated above, Thorne is unhappy with his current situation and wants a change but not all change is for the better. Ask Thorne and he would more than agree with that.
Regarding a transferee assignment handed to him, Maxim thinks, "No picture of the detainee. Unknown opposition. Rushed preps and just a two-man crew. What else can go wrong?"