Sam Boggs is an explosives expert for the CIA. Boggs is certainly not an agent. Not for the CIA nor any other organization. He is a bomber. He was an ex-Berkeley chemistry professor, ex-radical, bomb-builder-for-hire. Travelling around Europe as the US wanted him for old crimes, he made a fair living making bombs for whoever wanted one. His only requirement was that it could not cause loss of life. Blow up as many buildings as you wanted as long as no one got hurt, and Boggs was the man to make highly reliable explosives. In the mid 60s, Boggs had been an associate professor at Berkeley teaching chemistry and specializing in the new world of plastics. He was engaged to Susan, a graduate student determined to make her mark making the human genome and curing disease. Then Boggs was approached by the U.S.military who wanted bombs designed from plastic so the shrapnel would not be detectable by current medical means thus making them more effective. As he worked on it, his fiance grew more radical and took him along with him until he decided to stop work and take up the revolution cause. Then his girl left him to take a high paying research job and Boggs was left with a radicalism he really didn't believe in and the police after him. What followed was over ten years of building bombs around the world but for money, not for belief. He has grown tired of it and knows that it is just a matter of time before some radical zealot ends up getting Boggs killed. He is no longer a young man and he has found a beautiful, sexy young companion to make his days exciting. He doesn't want to make bombs anymore. That, naturally, is when the deal of a lifetime comes up and Boggs has to make a decision about the rest of his life. Boggs is a die-hard anti-hero. He would be the first to insist on that. Then, however, thousands of lives are put in the balance and he has to prove how heroic he can be.
Sam Capra is an agent with the CIA. At least he is for the first few pages of the first novel and after that he is a prisoner of the Agency and then a fugitive from the Agency and finally someone the Agency might forgive but never fully trust. Most of that is explained in the beginning and does not count as a spoiler. Described by a couple of characters in the books as in his mid-20's, Capra probably fits better as being late 20-ish considering that he has been an agent with the CIA for several years before marrying Lucy and they were married for three years before the start of the series. He is definitely a man whose career is on the rise, confident though not cocky, and excited about what he has done and is likely to continue to do with his work. For relaxation, Capra is an avid participant in parkour, the relatively new form of exercise training that involves gymnastic leaps and bounds against objects and over obstacles, much as a monkey might be seen doing in the jungle. Little wonder one of the major characters in Capra's life would start to call him that affectionately. When the series opens, he did it as a way to stay in shape for his next assignment. After his life falls apart, he does so as a coping mechanism. Fall apart is an understatement. Moving up the chain in the Agency with a beautiful wife who was eight months pregnant with their first child, Capra was enjoying an almost perfect life. Then a frantic phone call from his wife draws him out of his office building only to see her abducted. He gives chase to no avail. Then the building he was just in explodes, killing all his workmates. With his wife gone, he the only survivor with no proof as to why he was not killed, Capra is the chief suspect and the CIA is not known for gentle interrogations. From perfect to disastorous in a second. As the series