“Sam Durell is an agent with the CIA.
Born in southern Louisiana and raised by his grandfather, Jonathan, down in Bayou Peche Rouge ‘in the bayou below New Orleans’, Durell was taught the self-reliance of the Cajun people. Jonathan had been one of the last of the old-time Mississippi riverboat gamblers, a man ‘with shoulders and back as straight as a ramrod, with keen eyes and a unique way of looking at the world’.
Leaving the lush but dangerous swampland of the Bayou, Durell moves to the New England area where he attends and graduates from Yale. It was during his time there that he gained many friends he would meet later. He also lost his thick Cajun accent and acquired fluency in several foreign languages.
After serving in Europe with the OSS during World War II, he transferred to the G-2 of the Pentagon and then for the State Department before being recruited in the newly formed CIA. His rank in that espionage organization is that of sub-chief in K Section.
As stated in Assignment Suicide, Durell is ‘a tall man, well over six feet, with heavy shoulders and a lean waist and the delicate, long-fingered hands of a born gambler. His hair was thick and dark, and his eyes were a deep blue that sometimes looked black when he was angry or contemplating something dangerous. He had a small, neatly trimmed, thin mustache. His Cajun blood made him hot-tempered and game him a tendency toward independent action.’ After many assignments, the thin mustache was deemed too distinct a characteristic and it was removed but its loss was lamented for many jobs to come.
Durell, the Cajun, works for the CIA but is assigned to a little known secret branch which also works closely with the National Security Agency. This group has its own offices at Number 20 Annapolis Street in Washington, D.C.’s residential area just off Rock Creek Parkway.
A sub-chief with the organization, he has survived countless assignments and earned the ire of many foreign intelligence agencies. As is noted often in the books, his dossiers have been long ago ‘red-tagged’ in the files of both the KGB at Number 2 Dzerzhinsky Square and the Communist Chinese Security Center in Peking, this designation indicating a ‘kill at all cost’ sentence.
Edward Aarons wrote the first 42 of the Durell novels, from 1955 to 1976. After the death of Edward Aarons, Fawcett Publications and Aarons’ son decided to continue the series with new assignments under the son’s name, Will B. Aarons, though other sources consider that just a house name.”
-from Spy Guys and Gals.