Father and Son Summary
by Peter Maas

Start Your Free Trial

Download Father and Son Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Father and Son

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In the eyes of his immediate superior in British counterintelligence (MI 5), Brian Forbes is “resourceful, inventive, dedicated and without scruples.” Jamie McGuire, on the other hand, is young, idealistic, and of little consequence save to his father and his girlfriend, Ingrid Gerhard. Therefore, when Brian Forbes requires a “fall guy” to remove suspicion from the “mole” whom he has placed in the ranks of the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), Jamie McGuire appears to be the perfect candidate. Forbes needs to divert the attention of the IRA, because his informant gave him enough information to coordinate the seizure of a major arms shipment destined for the war zone in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the arms deal captured too much public attention, and if the flow of information is to continue, Forbes must safeguard his source.

There is one complication. Jamie’s father Michael is a former agent of the United States Army Counterintelligence Corps, a man who possesses the investigative skills, the contacts within the intelligence community, and the desire for vengeance to ensure that his son’s death as an informer does not go unchallenged. In consequence, although consumed by grief and a host of “might-have-beens,” Michael McGuire returns to the shadow-world of espionage in a determined effort to guarantee that those within the trans-Atlantic bureaucracy who collaborated to send his son to an unmarked grave should reap the just consequences of their amoral activities.

Peter Maas is best known for his nonfiction best-sellers (Serpico, The Valachi Papers, and King of the Gypsies). Here he combines his investigative talents and his extensive network of sources to produce an instructive and particularly moving tale of a single parent in pursuit of justice. Maas proposes to expose the reality of both the struggle in Northern Ireland and the efforts of the British government to contain the situation, and in that endeavor Father and Son is quite successful.