Declan Burke fled Ireland forty years ago and never looked back. Now settled in New York, he thinks he's put the old country behind him, until he reads the obituary of one Cathal Murphy. The obituary, he sees at once, is not about Murphy at all. It is a coded indictment of Burke's own life. And an announcement of his impending death. Halifax lawyer Monty Collins investigates the obit with its allusions to Burke's IRA past.
Collins gets no help from Burke, who - good soldier to the end - keeps the silence of the grave.
But Burke's denial becomes harder to maintain following a burst of gunfire at a family wedding. The shooting brings another old soldier onto the field: Leo Killeen, the commanding officer of Burke's former battalion in Dublin. But he also has secrets to protect. When a body is found in a rundown Brooklyn flat, Collins wonders just how far Killeen will go to keep those secrets under wraps.
From the farms of Ireland to the tenements of New York City, Monty is confronted by a cast of enigmatic characters, including the owner of a nightclub frequented by the New York mob; a sultry chanteuse; and Burke's hotheaded son Francis, whose resentment and dubious activities set the family on a road to destruction.
Monty isn't the only one who is surprised when he reaches the end of the road. Burke too must now confront the suspicion that he has been manipulated all along by an unseen hand.