Mikael Petros is a freelance agent.
That is about the best way to put it because the truth is far more long-winded. Petros is a condemned prisoner in an unspecified totalitarian country ruled by a leader designated as the Chairman. By implication and using names as an indicator, it is probable that the country is either the Soviet Union or East Germany. One large indicator is the fact that a neighboring country is being led by a man named Kaufmann and that leader is planning to take a giant leap and sever relations with the larger neighbor, an act that would have devastating financial consequences for the regime.
Petros comes into the picture by being a former soldier who has served in the regime's army, rising to the rank of Major in 12 years and looking like a success when something changed his life dramatically and he resigned. His next three years were spent doing low paying odd jobs and looking down, working at pumping gas before he was convicted for murder and sentenced to death. At the age of 35, he looks like a man with no future.
Just days before the execution, he is approached by a mysterious man who offers him a chance at life and a new start if he would take one crazy assignment - kill the President of a neighboring country. With little to choice except death, he reluctantly accepts. This pulls the convict from death row and into the world of international back-stabbing and intrigue the likes he never expected. Even when that job ends in a way he would have never predicted, Petros is not allowed to just vanish and his notoriety brings yet another job he cannot refuse.
Petros is decidedly not an agent in the traditional sense but he is a man who is thrown into a mess that he cannot control and can barely survive. He manages, though, to prove to those expect him to fail miserably that a desperate man is capable of many incredible things.
This two-book series bears considerable similarity to the two-book tale of Roy Tucker, another convict offered a chance at life if he will kill a political leader.