The story is about Martin Fallon, an ex-IRA executionor, who has bailed out on the movement after an tragic miscalculation caused a bus-load of school children to be blown up. We find him in London trying to leave the country and being chased by both his old comrades and Scotland Yard. He is blackmailed into killing one crime boss by another, and is seen by a priest Father De Costa. The story takes Fallon from executionor to hero as he is forced to protect the life of the priest at all costs.
Higgins takes the time to develop each character in this story into very complex people. Beside Fallon and De Costa we're introduced to Jack Meehan, (the crime boss with a twisted sense of fairness), his brother Billy (the original thing from under the rock), Miller (the frustrated Scotland Yard Detective), and Anna de Costa (the blind niece). Each character has wonderful and surprising quirks. A great example: Jack Meehan is an legit undertaker with many non-legit sidelines including prostution, gambling, and drugs. However, he is also VERY protective of the elderly, feeling they are always being taken advantage of. He actually crucifies one of his employees for trying to swindle an 87 year old widower out of 20 pounds.
To go further into the plot would spoil all the great surprises and twists.