This book is another in Higgins' Liam Devlin series. Devlin is the former IRA gunman, German intelligence operative and all around charming rogue from such other Higgins works as "The Eagle has Landed" and "Touch the Devil."
This time, Devlin is semi-retired from the IRA and working as a professor of English literature at Trinity College in Dublin. The KGB has placed a deep-cover operative in Ireland, where he's killed both Protestants and Catholics at key times, in order to maintain the state of strife and distrust that exists in Northern Ireland.
But when a Soviet engineer defects to Britain, he has a story to tell. The KGB had set up a town called Drumore in the Ukraine, but it's an exact replica of a market town in Northern Ireland. There, a young man named Mikhail Kelly, son of a Russian mother and Irish revolutionary Sean Kelly, is trained to act as a normal Irishman, and a member of the IRA. Kelly has been in Ireland for twenty years, acting on Moscow's orders to derail any peace initiatives.
Now, the jig is up. But the KGB attempts to put Kelly, his usefulness over, out of commission. They fail, and now Kelly has no where to run and nowhere to hide. In a last act of desperation, he sets his sights on the Pope, who'll soon be visiting England.
Devlin, working in conjunction with the IRA and Brigadier Charles Ferguson, must stop him.
This is a good book for Higgins fans. The beginning of the book seems sort of slow, and never quite builds the tension it intends to. The action picks up near the end, when Mikhail Kelly is unmasked in his assumed identity. Kelly's romp through Great Britain, one step ahead of Devlin and Ferguson, is the best part of the book.
If you like Higgins, and especially Devlin, this one's worth picking up. If you're new to Higgins, don't start here. Start with "Eye of the Storm."