Charlie Brewer is an agent for the CIA.
At least he was at one point. Or several points, to be more accurate. Brewer is a bit of a mystery to everyone and has a career with more ups and downs than a rollercoaster. Prior to the series opening, Brewer had been an operative for the Agency for many, many years having proven himself to be one of the best hunters the department had ever had. If someone was missing and you needed him found, Brewer was the man you called, even if the missing man was actually hiding. Brewer usually found them.
He stopped having a job when a man he was sent to find was found later in London killed in a knife fight. There was no evidence proving Brewer had done it but that was what everyone knew. Everyone also knew that the man needed to be killed but when it went public, even though it had not been traced back to the Agency, someone had to take the fall for it and Brewer was it. And why not, people said. Brewer was good at his job but he was also surly and opinionate and kept to himself and had no real friends so no one to miss him.
Months or years later (it isn't said which) his talents were needed again and he was found. The man to be located might have been snatched by the Russians and getting him back might cause waves so who better to do the job than someone already out of the system. Brewer's demanded payment was that he wanted back in though even he wasn't sure why.
As the series progresses, Brewer's life take even more turns and it gets confusing as to for whom he works and why. One thing that stays the same, though, is that Brewer is usually sent to find someone and they will get found. It might take a while and it might leave people hurting along the way but this bruiser of a man will find his target.
Brewer is described as a man in his mid 40's, bald except for a fringe of still black hair. He some times has a black beard and other times just looks like he has one. Despite being a bit past his prime, Brewer is still in great shape and most people who see him can tell immediately that Brewer is not someone to mess with.
Throughout the series, Brewer has no close friends. He gets on well with his wife in one book where they run a bar together but one would hardly call them close. He knows he is lonely but he cannot think of any way to get around it.
He comes from an abused home and this experience has made him what he is today. As a young teenager, Brewer's father had come one drunk and angry one too many times. After he was beaten and his mother pounded, Brewer waited until his father had passed out before getting his mother to safety and then returning to deal with dad. Taking a metal object and putting in on the stove to red-hot, Brewer held his father facedown on the bed after laying the item on the man's back. Then he left home for good. When Brewer was fully grown, he heard the man had stolen from his business and fled and Brewer wanted to know how to find him. That is when Brewer joined the Agency and learned everything anyone know about hunting a man. Some time later, the father died alone in an emergency room in California, cause unspecified.
Brewer is a haunted man. He is also very good at his job.
Note: the first book in the series, Catch Me, Kill Me, won the Edgar in 1978 for best mystery, an especially rare award for a spy novel.