Two wanted terrorists, O’Clery and Flanagan, suspected of bombings in Malta, leave Ireland for Santa Francisco. SAS agents are waiting to arrest the pair, but only capture O’Clery. The wary Flanagan, together with Colleen “White,” O’Clery’s sister, flies to Los Angeles first.
The arrest of O’Clery appears a set-up, especially when a young and inexperienced lawyer, Sean Conlon (“fresh meat” as O’Clery calls him), is appointed defense attorney in this high-profile extradition case.
When Sean and Colleen finally meet, a mutual romantic attraction develops. She reveals the reason for O’Clery’s visit: a twenty-year-old vendetta. O’Clery’s father, betrayed by a friend, was executed by the British. The betrayer, quisling, now lives in San Francisco.
Sean’s determination to win is part professional, part victory for his Irish American father, and part romantic interest in the enigmatic Colleen.
However, amidst the partial truths known to each of the central characters lies a shocking familial reality. Ultimately, a terrible choice confronts Sean: success in the courtroom could have disastrous personal consequences.
Meantime, in the background, manipulating events and waiting for the twists and turns to play themselves out, lurks the suave yet ruthless English prosecutor, Barclay-Smythe, the puppet master, who controls all elements of this complicated puzzle.