W. Cooper is an agent with the CIA.
Most people knowing his situation and observing his day-to-day operations would likely consider him in semi-retirement but technically he is an active agent and for the instances depicted in the books, he definitely is one. The rest of the time, though, he is definitely in a state of retirement, if not inebriation.
Cooper's days with the Agency started nearly two decades before the first book. He had a different name then but what it was is never mentioned. He had been in for a few years, though probably not many, and was attached to a team of twelve, fellow hot-shots anxious for action and trained to be very good at it. Then came a mission by an up-and-coming desk jockey with visions of the upper echelon in his eyes so strongly he failed to see pitfalls. Eleven agents died and Cooper was taken prisoner. Many months of horrific torture followed because no one knew he was alive and no one wanted to ask.
When Cooper was finally able to escape, the desk jockey had risen in power to a deputy-hood and was heading even higher. Cooper learned who had screwed up so badly and knew now how powerful the man was and how vulnerable he was to the truth. Cooper made him a deal. Promotion to a GS-14 pay grade, a half-century worth of pay in a foreign bank account, a very liberal expense account, and creation of a new CIA station in the British Virgin Islands with one lone agent assigned, named Cooper. Cooper had picked his own new last name and chose the initial W for his first name without any explanation as to what it stood for.
With the rest of his life taken care of, Cooper spends his time on a resort that he is part owner in, drinking and enjoying the sun and sea and the steady line of bored wives visiting the islands with their neglectful husbands. Except for the regular hangovers, Cooper keeps himself in good shape by running the beach regularly and swimming constantly. Otherwise, he is content to let the rest of the world go on without him.
Of course, life is never quite that easy and Cooper finds himself pulled back for adventures no one wants, least of all himself. When you are known to your local authorities as the “spy-o-the-island”, that is to be expected.
Taking almost an equal position in this series is Julie Laramie, a junior intelligence analyst at Langley comes upon the same problems that Cooper encounters but from a different angle and who finds herself up to her neck in trouble as a result. She is inexperienced but very insightful and very tenacious. She also, after a brief learning experience, works well with Cooper and has earned his respect. Her actions have also had the interesting side-effect of bringing down a couple of Agency heavyweights.