Ralph Carter is a police officer with Special Branch.
The two-book series details some of the activities confronting the British government as it fought rebels and Communists and others during the waning years of colonial rule in then Malaya, now Malaysia, around 1950.
Holding the rank of Assistant Superintendent with Special Branch, Carter is responsible for hunting and arresting those whose criminal activities constitute a threat to security. As such, he is still a police officer but with far greater powers and responsibilities.
As the series opens, he has just been placed in charge of the Projects Section, a small group dedicated to finding ways and means of eliminating Communist leaders. He is there as a replacement because the previous holder of that post had been murdered, probably by those he was trying to arrest.
Carter's job is made incredibly difficult as it is common knowledge that independence for the area is on its way, though no one knows exactly when, and the turmoil that its pending brings causes alliances to shift almost daily and people who were once devoted to the British are watching out for their own future and old enemies are stepping forward to show how useful they can be in the future government.
And in it all, the Communist influences that strive to keep the chaos from ebbing are the chief target for Carter's group.
Carter is described as a man no longer young but still considerably away from retirement. He is extremely experienced and knowledgable about the insurrection skills of the communist agitators as well as being an old hand at being a cop. He also knows that often the role of a cop does not work at all in the dark alley visits of an undercover agent.