Emily Stearn is an agent with British Intelligence.
She will be. After a bit and after learning her uncle had been one. And after she had quit her boring, tedious job working the phones at an insurance call center - who knew a fifty-something supervisor would understand text speak, especially swearing-without-the-words. She was fed up with the work and him and that was that. Then a few blocks away she spots her live-in boyfriend exchanging tongues with a gorgeous woman and Stearn knew that relationship was also over. Dropping by her parents' home, she learns the day could in fact get worse as she is told her beloved Uncle Sebastian was deceased. As she puts it, "What a b***h of a morning".
Stearn would likely have just gone on to find another job, probably just as mind numbing as the previous one. That sort of was her nature, being very conservative in her approach to other people, unassuming and reticent to speak up. This is odd because she knew, as did those few close to her, that she was a genius. She was incredibly good with mathematics and she had a very impressive orderly mind. She never lacked for confidence in her abilities. She just was not pushy.
But that would change because her mother needed someone as organized and methodical as Stearn to help wih Uncle Sebastian's estate. The man had thousands of books as well as tons of records and CDs, not to mention a mountain, it seemed, of papers of this and that. And Stearn had to dive into all that to learn what should be saved or donated or sold or just tossed away.
And it will be while doing this mountain of work that she will find the evidence that Sebastian had years ago been a spy the British government. And she will find what seems to be proof that the Russians had finally learned of his activities and since part of that had resulted in the death of someone important to them, they might well have come for revenge. Uncle Sebastian had possibly - no, probably - been murdered.
Stearn might be shy but she is also curious and her curiosity - or tenacity - will change her life as the Russians will learn of her investigations and so will British Intelligence and in a very short time, unassuming unemployed Emily Stearn will be on a whole new career path.