Ford Duane, aka the Red Finger, is an agent with American Intelligence.
In the pages of his recorded adventures, references are made numerous times to working for the Secret Service but it is not the then Treasury Department organization, now a part of Homeland Security, but rather a generic term for an agency inside the American Intelligence community. This unnamed agency is tasked with protecting the country from foreign agents and saboteurs and the city of New York is Duane's assigned region.
To better perform his duties, Duane maintains a cover identity for the very few who know him do not think of him as the highly successful, dedicated servent of the people that he is but as the proprietor of a very run-down, shabby used book store owner, just one of many in a series of gray cramped streets far from the glamor of Broadway. It is here that he routinely sits and waits patiently for his next assignment.
His personal headquarters are secreted in the book store. Going through a curtain at the back of the shop moves a person into Duane's living quarters where other bookshelves can be found. Only Duane knows that pressing the right spot about breast-high on the shelf unlatches the case and it swings "out and back on oiled hinges". In the now revealed inner room, lit by "a small bulb high up in the ceiling", Duane can use a myriad of devices to read secret messages sent him, including ultra-violent lighting.
In the storefront, the Duane that the infrequent customer might see is that of a frumpy, non-descript man, a tad younger than most in the used book selling business but just as dusty as the volumes resting forsaken on the shelves. Appearances are often deceiving. "Ford Duane is not quite what he seems, though his very existence depends on the maintenance of his identity as a dreamy, cobweb-brained sexton of a Tomb of Defunct Books." In that backroom, hidden office, and out in the field as the Red Finger, it is a totally different story.
When first we meet Duane in his guise as the Red Finger, he is described as "a vague, black-clothed figure" as "a gray felt was pulled low over his forehead, a gray mask hid nose and mough, only his narrowed eyes were revealed, their irises a steely blue". His hands were covered by skin-tight gloves and it is there that the person Duane is assaulting is looking for "although the rest of the glove was black, the finger curled around the gun's trigger was a glaring scarlet, as if it had been dipped in fresh blood".
While he would likely not think of himself as a killer, Duane will not hesitate to bring to a violent end any man who would think to harm the country the Red Finger has sworn to protect.