Major Hiram Haynes is an agent with the British Secret Service.
The man's rank in the British Army is given here as though it were part of his name because throughout the many tales of adventure we have of this man, he is referred to as Major Haynes far more often than his real first name is every mentioned.
This rank is also interesting in that we are told that Haynes holds the position of "Chief of the Counter Espionage Bureau" which seems a position more suitable for a colonel or general. Still, Major is what he is and the impression I got, Major is just fine for Haynes; he is into the job, not rank.
All the adventures we have of Haynes take place just before, during, and just after World War I at a time when the existence of a British Secret Service was largely unknown and even pooh-poohed. This is important to me because it makes me feel like Haynes is defining the role of spy-hunter even more than he is filling it and he is doing so when the whole business of protecting his country from enemy agents and saboteurs is brand new.
The first set of adventures we have of Major Haynes were penned by the German spy named , aka Herman Gallwitz, in many escapades that the Teutonic operative had in England during the First World War. By that I mean Heine is a German spy sent to run operations in England. Heine is certain the Secret Service does not exist and that all spy-hunting is done at the police level. When Heine meets Mr. Haynes (as he thinks him to be), Heine believes him to be a freelance (or out-of-work) reporter that Heine could use to unobtrusively gather intel to pass back to the General Command. As he learns that Haynes is not really a reporter, Heine still has his doubts about Haynes' real occupation but he will eventually come around. As the escapades progress in which Haynes invariably throws a monkeywrench, Haynes is treated an annoyance rather than a nemesis at first because Heine is too incapable of conceiving of anyone good enough to really challenge him. Just how effective Haynes really is needs to be inferred through how bad Heine failed.
The second set of missions are said to have been told through the eyes of his chief of staff, Captain Dane, although none of then really are.. In these adventures, Haynes is not only the main actor, he is definitely shown to be a man of action. So much so that in the introduction we are given of Haynes, a very short account is given of the time in Central America where on a train a would be bandit robber gets annoyed at Haynes who instead of cowering in fear is actually smiling at the man in amusement. The irate bandit spits at him. "'I do not like your habit,' said Haynes in Spanish and shot him through the mouth." That gives an excellent demonstration of the type of man that Haynes is - enjoying things as they transpire but when action is needed, showing no hesitation to do what is needed instantly and without hesitation. As you read these tales of Haynes, you learn he is extremely confident to the point of being cocky but then the man pulls off whatever bold move he makes so cockiness is earned.
The third set of stories, well, there are just two of them, are told about a different pair of British operatives working with a submarine to go places and do things that would otherwise not be possible. Haynes takes part in these only in mainly cameo style but his influence and the respect he is shown come through clearly.
Haynes has some interesting ideas that puts him drastically apart from most governmental folks with whom he deals. For one thing, he has considerable respect for the police but feels they are largely ineffective in stopping spies and saboteurs. "Counter-espionage work calls for the illegal mind", he tells a colleague, and he means it. He is not at all hesitant to take part in burglary, robbery, and some blackmail here and there to accomplish his goals.
In one case he forces a forger to do some forging for him, something that rather surprised the criminal but Haynes acted like making the crook do something crooked made the utmost in sense.
Then there was the time when, after taking part in several of these very much not legal activities in a single mission, he begs off being asked to investigate his own handiwork, telling his boss, "I fear there has been some illegality in the matter which may reflect discredit on a Government department". He would know.