cover image Father and Son

Father and Son

Peter Maas. Simon & Schuster, $18.45 (316pp) ISBN 978-0-671-63172-7

Maas has always brought a novelist's sense of pace and drama to his nonfiction (most notably Serpico ), so it should come as no surprise that his accomplished second novel is sharp and surehanded, especially in its depiction of people caught up in a cause about which they have more passion than knowledge. Widower Michael McGuire is a New York ad exec with dwindling emotional ties to his Irish heritage, but his young son Jamie (with some indoctrination from his grandfather) becomes an outspoken supporter of the IRA at an early age. At 19, he attends Harvard but moonlights as a coffeehouse balladeer whose songs about ``the Troubles'' capture the attention of a gunrunning network that decides to use him as a pawn. In alternate chapters, the author probes Michael and Jamie's relationship and strips away the layers of an IRA network that, in his portrayal, extends through every level of American government. As the stories converge into tragedy, Maas's tightly coiled narrative reaches a conclusion that, though inevitable, is highly effective. Major ad/promo. (Mar.)