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Long ago, Declan Burke fled Ireland in the dark of night, started a new life in New York City, and has never looked back—until one morning he picks up the newspaper and reads the obituary of one Cathal Murphy. He sees at once that the obituary is not about Murphy at all, but is instead a coded summary of his own life and probably a thinly veiled death threat. After turning to an attorney for advice, Declan decides not to reveal his IRA past, but keeping old secrets becomes much more difficult after a burst of gunfire at a family wedding and the appearance of Leo Killeen, the commanding officer of Declan’s former battalion in Dublin. The subsequent discovery of a body in a rundown Brooklyn flat brings other enigmatic characters onto the scene, including a woman nursing a grudge; a shady importer of Irish artifacts; the owner of a nightclub frequented by the New York mob; a sultry chanteuse; and Declan’s hotheaded son Francis, whose resentment and criminal activities force Declan, the past master of self-control, to confront the suspicion that he has been manipulated all along by an unseen hand.

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