Chandler is an agent with an unnamed U.S. Intelligence agency.
She has been an agent for most of her adult life and she is very, very good at it. Trained in all sort of weaponry so that virtually anything she picks up she can use to kill someone, she actually looks at such tools as something to use when she cannot use her hands. With her body, she is even more lethal.
Chandler is not her real name, either first or last. She has both but they are never revealed and she wants to make sure it stays that way. She was an orphan at birth and raised by step parents with memories that are not very good. Wanting to escape that, she ran into the nut case known as Cory and the remainder of her teenage years disappeared. As bad as her stepfather had been, Cory was worse, a fact made more terrible by the fact that the girl who would be Chandler thought they were in love. When things went downhill from there, the chance to be free of it all seemed too good to be true. It was.
The salvation came in the form of this mysterious clandestine group and the designation as Chandler. Why that name did not seem important. What was most pressing was the incredible training she was put through under the guidance of a man she knew only as The Instructor. Months and months of the most brutal, non-stop drilling and instruction into every thing she might ever need to know for the life she would be leading.
How to blend in. How to stand out. How to act meek and scared and vulnerable one second and slash an enemy's carotid artery the next. How to pick locks and diffuse bombs but also how to set incredible traps and make her own explosives out of common items. How to torture and to endure it for longer than should be expected. How to kill a hundred different ways and to be ready to die at any instant but never willingly.
After this intense indoctrination, she was put to work in the field and the years go by in a blur of non-stop assignments. She had no real life and didn't really miss one. She had her work and that seemed enough. She had no close friends, unless one counted the voice on the phone belonging to her handler, a man she had never met in person and knew only as Jacob. Jacob understood what she was going through. Jacob was the only one she could or would confide in.
That was the life of Chandler until the events of the first book changed things dramatically. It is the life shown in the first of three planned novellas which take place before the first book, presenting a chance to see Chandler on the job.
Before someone decides that her world needs to stop and the killers start knocking down her door. That's when the excitement really starts to happen.
The Chandler series, originally scheduled to be a trilogy, is the combined work of two accomplished authors. J. A. Konrath has created several series in his day, the most famous of which is the very funny and exciting "Jack" Daniels books featuring a female homicide detective. He has others as well but Jack takes center stage. Ann Voss Peterson sharped her skills with a large number of Harlequin Intrigue novels before she decided to move a bit further into the suspense genre. She too had started a series of detective novels about a female Wisconsin county sheriff named Val.
Together they came up with the idea of Chandler and [minor spoiler alert] the Hydra project. They decided to make the books as non-stop action as they could. They also decided, for fun, to throw into the mix of characters created just for the Chandler series the odd character or two from the other works they had done.
"Jack" shows up a couple of times, briefly but importantly. Val lends a vital hand at one point. Other people, too, step in for a short time and then step out again. Harry McGlade slimes his way in and, fortunately for any decent reader, slithers away again leaving indelible memories. And the terrific Tequila shows the ultra-dangerous Chandler that he can take her any time he wants. This use of support characters from other series is certainly done with an eye towards drumming up interest in those books, too, and it works wonderfully.