Charles Pol is a scoundrel.
There are lots of other terms that might be used to describe this man, words such as master manipulator, schemer, double-crosser, agent-provocateur, thief, double-agent, and such. Scoundrel seems to fit the best.
What makes a scoundrel like Pol belong in a compendium of spies is that fact that in most of his shady double-dealings and nefarious plots and machinations, there is usually an international element that demands his inclusion.
One very interesting aspect to Monsieur Pol is that while he is usually the key mover behind six very different escapades, he is not the main character in any of them except perhaps one. The poor people who have the misfortune of being the involuntary puppets controlled at times by Pol, nudged at other times, or shoved unwillingly and unknowingly at others by Pol are usually reporters. That is not to say that they are all babes-in-the-woods being victimized by Pol for they are not.
Ingleby in the first book likes to party a bit too much which can lead to a severe lapse in judgment.
Wilde in the second adventure goes from being a man who does not mind a sip now and then to being one who would not mind a piece of a multi-million dollar government heist.
Two others, Cayle in book three and Hawn in book five, just want a good story but they will be enticed to do things they might not otherwise do by Pol offering them just what they want.
And Rawcliff, not a reporter but a wine merchant in the sixth book desperately in need of cash, is eager to join an endeavor that might get him out of financial ruin assuming it does not get him permanently dead.
Only in the fourth book is Pol brought upfront to run things but whether he is in the shadows or standing in the bright light, Pol has a way of convincing others to do things not normally dreamt of by them.
And to look at M. Pol is to see a man that is about the last thing one would consider such a major force. As he is described in one book, this very short and very, very fat man is a character plucked out of a farce. “It would have required someone with special insight … to perceive that, behind his grotesque exterior, Charles Pol was a man to be taken seriously.”
According to Pol, he started out as an anarchist fighting in the Spanish Civil War but his side lost, he decided the next place to use his talents was in the beginning stages of WWII where he found that he hated the Germans and hated the Communists and had little good to say about the Free French. Nevertheless, he worked to bring about the end of the Nazis and was captured. During interrogation he claims the Gestapo castrated him which meant he ended the war as a eunuch instead of a war hero. Since then his every effort has been on behalf of himself.
Whether it is a plan to steal millions of dollars from a Vietnam courier or to help the notorious Kim Philby defect back to the British or to assassinate the Shah of Iran at the behest of the Shah himself, Pol’s actions are varied and intriguing.
And at all times he remains very much a scoundrel.