This book centers around three men: Former IRA gunmen Liam Devlin, Martin Brosnan and Frank Barry. Devlin is now semi-retired, working as a professor of English Literature at Trinity College in Dublin. Brosnan is in an island jail off the French coast for shooting a policeman during an IRA arms deal. Barry is now working as a gun-for-hire to various left-wing European terrorist groups, and sometimes the KGB.
After he attempts to kill the British Foreign Secretary on a visit to France, the Prime Minister decides Barry must be dealt with, once and for all. Group 4, the PM's special missions unit headed by Brigadier Charles Ferguson, is given the task.
Ferguson enlists the aid of Devlin and, after he breaks out of the prison, Brosnan, in the mission. There is personal bad blood between Brosnan and Barry. The final confrontation is the best part of the book, when Barry tries to escape England with a stolen rocket-launcher prototype and Brosnan and Devlin hot on his heels.
This book would be enjoyable for Higgins fans, because the characters have either appeared in other Higgins books, or (in the case of Barry) been alluded to. It's nice to get some background on Brosnan, and it makes his actions in "Eye of the Storm" more clear and understandable.
But Barry is the most interesting character. He's Sean Dillon, only less charming and more cold-blooded. The relationship between Barry and Dillon was hinted at in "Eye of the Storm," where Dillon refers to Barry as sort of his mentor. That relationship is interesting, and I would like to see Higgins devote an entire book to it, because I think it could work well.
I would also like Higgins to give us some more background on the time in the late-60s/early-70s when Devlin, Brosnan, Barry, and Dillon were all in the IRA together. Hopefully he'll put out a book on that, too.
As for "Touch the Devil," if you're a Higgins fan, you'll like it. If you're not, it's a good introduction to some of his main characters, but not his best book. I recommend "Eye of the Storm" as an introducition to Higgins, because it'll get you hooked and coming back for more.