Ambrose Usher is an agent for the British Foreign Office.
He probably would not categorize himself as such though someone with his laconic sense of humor would find it an appealing epithet. Usher would more likely, if asked directly, refer to himself as a philosopher. And many others would agree as that is what he has taught as a noted don at the prestigious Oxford University. For more years than many can remember, he has been a staple on that campus, a bulwart professor who challenged the minds of his students and many a fellow faculty member.
But on numerous other occasions, the epitome of British academia has been asked by the Foreign Office for his brilliant abilities of observation and his nearly uncanny skill as spotting details that most others miss and to point out ways to get around problems just as he has often pointed out people who were causing these troubles.
To most who know him, Usher is the quintessential British scholar, a fact that he enjoys though he muses in one book that he possibly the most British and least British of those who know him. He most definitely loves his country and has served it honorably and faithfully for many years but the name Usher was just an Anglocized version of his original last name of Uscze, changed by his father when they first came to the United Kingdom when he was 14. Before then, Usher and his family had traveled all over Europe after leaving his native Yugoslavia, spending a year here and a year there. Not only did this give the young Usher a great education in numerous nationalities on that continent, it helped him amass a knowledge of languages which would be of great use in his part-time governmental occupation.
Mentioned above, Usher's low-keyed sense of humor sometimes escapes those who hear it and often confuses others but Usher cannot pass an opportunity to convey some of his philosophical attitudes to his extracurricular activities. And he enjoys it considerably. At one instance while speaking with a person at the British embassy in America, he noted that "back at Oxford we are very serious, dealing with abstractions. Only here [in the outside world] can we be frivolous, dealing with the fate of nations."
Though Usher would not, and most would not, think of him as a spy, he is without a doubt an asset that the Foreign Office uses frequently and the ability to travel and find the odd bit of excitement appeals to Usher. And if the occasional bad guy should be caught in an Usher trap, well, so much the better.