Tony James is an agent with the CIA.
Absolutely not true! Still, he is associated with the CIA despite really not wanting to be. He is because, well, because they want him to be. They know something about him they want to use. They want to study him and learn from him and figure out how he is able to do what he does so naturally so they might be able to do it as well. All in defense of the country, don't you see. No personal agendas here.
James does not believe it, of course. How could he, considering the very ability they are so interested in. The skill was "to instantaneously sense dominant core character traits". Which meant that upon meeting someone, James could get a really good idea right away of what kind of person someone was. From then on, if that person tried to inveigle him into something, he could glam on to the fact that flattery or coercion was being used, not truth. It was a skill a lot of people would love to exploit. It was a skill a lot of people would kill to prevent it being exploited on them.
James is 31 years old when we start to get to know him (there is a minor episode when he was 6 but you know what I mean) and when the CIA makes its first unofficial contact with him. He is a computer expert who divides his working time into one day helping customer service and the next "troubleshooting computer virus protection".
James is married to the beautiful and intelligent Jacquelyn, of whom, even after several years of happy marriage, he still thought of as his bride. They met when they were both 19 and in college and from the first sighting, he has known she was the one for him. She has been aware of his gifts for some time though getting him to articulate how he does what he does or when he started being able to do it has always proven impossible.
James is a naturally gifted athlete. Furthermore, he hates to lose "almost more than anything else". He realized long ago that other than people who play sports just to have fun or get exercise, those who are really into the competition do so either because they love to win or they hate to lose. James, with his talents, is able to spot the difference quickly and that lets him pattern his actions around their desires and thus help influence the outcome. Similarly, that skill transcends beautifully into everyday interactions.
"The mouth can say anything but the body just doesn't lie."