James Burlane is an agent of the CIA.
Meticulously honest but with a cynicism that seems endless, he does whatever needs doing to get the job done. And if he can find a beautiful woman to help along the way, so much the better.
The word reprobate might have been invented for Burlane, at least when it comes to the better vices. He does love the ladies and since they seem to like him, too, so much the better. He also loves a good drink. He will take a bad one as well if forced but he would prefer the good stuff. As long as it is wet and potent. He smokes. Not a lot but then not a little, either. Cigars, cigarettes, he doesn't really care. He especially appreciates one while drinking or after the pleasures of a woman. He's a betting man but is neither appreciably good nor bad at it; he just does it for enjoyment and would shrug off the result whichever way it went.
If you talked to Burlane about these vices, he would certainly just shrug it off. It was who he was and what he enjoyed. In his mid-40's when the series opens, he had already had two failed marriages and has decided he just wasn't very good at it. He doesn't think about it much, though, and would just shrug that off, too, if asked.
But Burlane isn't totally uncaring. He likes his job but has no illusions about it or the motives of the people above him. He doesn't care for politicians. He strongly dislikes the Soviets, not because they are evil but because they are bullies and he enjoys punching them in the nose on occasion. He is smart and observant and good at guessing motives, probably because of that lack of illusions. He able with a gun and can hold his own in a fight but would rather avoid both if given a chance.
Burlane's life changes during the course of the series. Having been an operative for far too many years, he has made his share of enemies but even more importantly, he has become a known commodity and that eventually reduces his effectiveness so he dies. More accurately, he will have his death faked so he can become a non-entity, able to do whatever it really takes, leaving total denyability to the government. Even that can last only so long, though, and life will change again.
Note: The last book in the series was written with, and possibly by, U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie and deals with the slaughter of members of Congress while in session. The authenticity that the co-author brings is impressive.