Kenneth Aubrey is the spymaster at the British Secret Service.
It is his role to decide who goes where for which mission. It is his decision which person is the best fit for whatever strange assignment might occur and it is usually he that comes up with the plans in the first place. Aubrey has been doing this for a very long time and while he can and does make mistakes, he is right far more often than not.
This collection of 16 books might just as easily have been shuffled into three different series.
Firefox, Firefox Down, Winder Hawk, and A Different War deal largely with the actions of an American pilot and operative named Mitchell Gant. Gant is a former USAF recovering from trauma suffered in action in Vietnam. His terrific skills at flying fighter jets and his almost native proficiency with Russian make him the perfect candidate to steal a revolutionary Mig-31. In three of the adventures about Gant, Aubrey plays a pivotal role in events.
Sea Leopard, Jade Tiger, Lion's Run, The Last Raven, A Hooded Crow, Playing With Cobras, and Slipping Into Shadows all center around the highly capable British agent Patrick Hyde who becomes Aubrey's number one operative and, in one book, his eventual savior.
And the third group would be the remaining books, several of which deal with Aubrey working as a partner with or controller of another agent.
This body of work of espionage novels might have entitled the Aubrey sphere of influence. While he is a main character in most of the adventures, he has a much smaller role in some and none at all in a couple. But even when he isn't around, his influence is still present. He usually runs the show that Gant and Hyde star in. He has other productions in which different players operate. For that reason, he is given the overall title role.
At the beginning of the series, Aubrey is a Deputy Director of the Service. He will attain the higher position during the course of events but in every instance he is at work, he is a true master at the spy game. He isn't gentle with his people, expecting and getting the best from them, but he hates to lose any. Even more, he hates to lose, period.
Aubrey is not a young man during the late 70s through early 90s when the adventures generally occur. He was an agent in British Intelligence working behind enemy lines in 1939, making him likely to have been born around 1915. After the War he remained in his job as he switched from fighting Germans to chasing Russian spies usually after nuclear secrets. As he aged, his days in the field grew less and his command over younger agents took over. Even in his 60s and 70s, though, his passion remained as hot as ever when it came to catching those who might threatened his homeland.