Cotton Malone is an agent with the Magellan Billet.
The Billet is a division inside the Justice Department that concentrates on international investigations. It is described as "twelve lawyers the Justice Department put together to do some very specialized things." While not spies per se, their assignments are world-wide, varied, exotic, and highly dangerous. Legal skills are by no means the only abilities Malone had to possess to last as long as he did. The cases these twelve are assigned take them into the most dangerous parts of the world, usually alone and relying only on their training and their wits. Knowing how to shoot and how and when to duck were required skills as well.
As the series begins, Malone is a retired agent, having left the Billet at least a year before after over a dozen years working for it. Tired of the travelling and tired of people taking shots at him, he had moved to Copenhagen, a city he fell in love with during his travels. Using the good graces of a Danish billionaire who feels indebted to him, Malone has opened a rare book store. He had expected his exciting days, which cost him his marriage and for a while his son, were behind him. He was wrong.
Malone is in his early 40s, having been a Navy JAG officer for several years when the offer to join the Billet came. He remains a tall, muscular man with full wavy hair of a light sienna color. He does not show outwardly the abuse his body has taken from his former profession but he feels it nevertheless.
Whether it is continued friendship with his former boss or his association with the influential billionaire or his new closeness to a beautiful, rich, and deadly young woman with an exotic past, Malone is never at a loss of adventure even if he truly wants to stay in his book store and take things easy.