Joe Talon is an anachronism. He’s a hippie ex-surfer with a James Bond complex working for the CIA, barely conforming at work and not hiding it. But Talon is very good at his job of checking anomalies in satellite photos. Too good. Talon spots an anomaly where no anomaly was marked for his attention, and starts digging into it. Talon’s attention to something nobody was supposed to notice focuses attention on him–the sort of attention that has him running for his life.
Talon’s choices are simple–die, disappear for good, or find a way to expose the conspirators within the Company while he’s on the run. All three look like good choices to him at various times during the course of the novel, but Talon’s final choice is to fight back.
Talon isn’t a trained spy, just a highly specialised clerk; but he’s bright and desperate and he’s stolen some interesting goodies from work over the years. The ensuing chase makes for a thrilling read, with a lot of careful world building going into making the story feel realistic. The book was first published in 1978, so the technology is very dated now, of course; as are some of the social attitudes. But it’s still a good read, even today.