Wallace Mahoney is an agent for the CIA.
He is, in fact, very much a veteran CIA agent, trained in all form of spy craft, years and years of thankless service, a very solid reputation for getting the job done, the ability to work well with others, both in the Agency and with outsiders.
At the beginning of the series, Mahoney, at 61 years old, is happily married to Marge and has been for 39 of those years. with two grown sons, grandchildren, and retirement on the horizon. He knows he has many flaws such as drinking more than he should, smoking cigars when they are bad for him, although he does take pleasure in knowing they are at least Cuban, not as much exercise as he really should, and not being able to handle stupid people well. But in quiet analysis, he is pleased with his life.
As the series proceeds, life will deal him a harsher hand as it does all eventually but through it all Mahoney's honesty and sense of justice never falter. Despair will understandably set in but he never gives up nor does he become bitter.
Through the five books, Mahoney remains what his wife called him on more than one occasion, a romantic. He is a man who feels that wrongs should be righted, that people should be treated fairly, and that his country was worth the sacrifices he and his colleagues make.
One interesting development that sets this series apart from most is the role his son John will play in the latter books. This is one of the few series where family plays an important role in the spycraft itself.