Jack McColl is an agent for the British Secret Service.
When the recorded adventures of McColl begin, the year is 1913 and the organization for which he is doing the spying, the British Secret Service, is very much in its infancy and even more so little more than an offshoot of the military struggling to learns what it can in a world that is changing rapidly on behalf of a government that looks upon spying as largely ungentlemanly.
Officially and truthfully, he is a businessman. "It was left to part-time spies to do the dirty work. Over the last few years, McColl - and, he presumed, other British businessmen who traveled the world - had been approached and asked to ferret out those secrets the empire's enemies wanted kept. The man who employed them on this part-time basis was an old naval officer named Cumming, who worked from an office in Whitehall and answered, at least in theory, to the Admiralty and its political masters."
From this we can glean the fact that he has been doing this sideline for some years and we will be able to follow him for nearly another decade, though his life will change drastically during that time, hardly surprising considering the tremendous changes everyone in Europe and Asia and Africa will witness.
Along that road, McColl will meet up with Caitlin Hanley, a young American woman struggling to make a name for herself in a world where the role of women was quite firmly established and young ladies did not show the kind of individuality that she so clearly demonstrated. Their relationship and its flux of waxing and waning will play a major part of his existence even as he struggles all around the Near and Far East to serve a country that needs his kind but is loathe to admit it.