San Diego cop Benny Freedman decides to meet his Belfast relatives for the first time. They disowned his Catholic mother decades ago when she married his Jewish father. It turns out that her siblings are still unrepentant bigots, but he finds himself drawn to two of his cousins, pretty young Catherine Callahan and Brendan O’Malley, a poet whose brother Sean has just been murdered. Cousin Benny finds himself drawn into internecine feuding between the IRA and the INLA, as well as skirmishes against the British Army and loyalist gangs. Brendan, an IRA cell leader, has his own designs upon Catherine and he becomes jealous that she is drawn to Benny.
Parts of the plot are wildly improbable—Benny has been made a multimillionaire twice by the two dead women that he mourns from earlier adventures, not to mention the way that he draws trouble. Still, the plot moves along at a good pace. Benny, though he is troubled to find himself aiding republican violence, also despairs at the plight of poor Catholics during the Troubles and at their intransigence in piling retaliation upon retaliation.