Stephen Haden is a freelance agent.
He is not interested in smuggling out secrets from behind the Iron Curtain, though, as that does not pay well enough to keep him in the style of living that he prefers. He chooses to smuggle something bigger and more difficult but which can earn him tens of thousands of dollars for a few days work. He smuggles people.
His services are in constant demand, whether it is from wealthy families trying to get loved ones to freedom and willing to pay the exorbitant fees that Haden demands or it is Western powers who would rather it be an independent that tries because failure looks so bad on a bureaucrat's resume.
Haden is in his mid 50's as this two-book series begins. British by birth but with a Swiss mother who helped him speak French and German as well as he did English, he makes his home in a suburb of Zurich in a large but modest looking house complete with guard dogs, electronic surveillance, and a large metal fence. The security is not overly apparent as that would not fit the wealthy and sedate community but it is there nevertheless.
Just under 6' tall, Haden is a heavily built man but with no excess weight. His powerful muscles move his body with speed and agility and are kept in shape with constant and dedicated exercise. He has cool blue eyes, a hard-edged jaw, and customarily possesses an unfathomable expression.
He had tried, after school, to earn a living as a mechanic as he loved engines and tinkering with vehicles of all sizes. He specialized in crash repair but that business eventually failed and left him broke but with some interesting contacts. These came about because he was able to modify certain high-priced cars to alter their appearance, acts which made him unpopular with the police. He toyed with numerous other occupations over the next few years, such as selling antiques of dubious authenticity, an import/export business that the authorities considered smuggling, and a friendly bar and lounge that was stopped for being a brothel.
That was when yet another attempt to make a living came about and Haden found that he was good at it. With his contacts in the seamier side of life, his love of cars, his skills with smuggling, and his willingness to not let a country's laws be that big of a deterrent, he started bringing people from the East to the West.
He was not only good at his new job, he played by his own set of rules and treated his customers and his cargo well and honorably. His reputation grew. So did his bank account. So did his list of enemies.