The novel is a crime thriller and set in 1987. It opens by introducing the various members of an underworld gang. They are engaged in such nefarious practices as extortion, drug supplying, prostitution, etc. The leader is an Italian called Lawrence Adrian Causio. He is an immigrant from Sicily who has developed the organization to a point where its power and wealth are an affront to the rule of law in West Yorkshire.
The narrative then switches to the main character, James Egan. He is the owner of a profitable insurance brokerage but because of his past experiences and recent divorce has become cynical and jaundiced. A chance encounter has led to an alliance between himself and Causio. The criminal has persuaded Egan to use his influence on his clientele, with the aim of eventually swindling them. Egan is deeply suspicious of Causio, believing the man intends to double-cross him. His assessment is correct, and on the day of the robbery, Egan puts his counterplan into action first, thwarts Causio, and escapes to Spain with the proceeds.
There, he meets a woman, and, mutually attracted, a romance begins. But unbeknownst to Egan, the gang has discovered his whereabouts. He is pursued, and a murderous battle ensues in a remote spot on the Costa Brava from which Egan barely escapes alive. His ordeals, however, are not over. Causio’s son, devastated by his father’s death, launches another attack on Egan’s life a few weeks later.
The underlying premise of the work, I think, is true. Namely, if any person experiences the sort of misfortunes that befall Egan, then many will succumb in the same way.