When Father Donald McNulty, a gentle parish priest from the Cotswolds, makes one his regular visits to family in Canada, he does not expect to be caught up in an incident that will lead to frantic discussions at the highest level aimed at averting possible international conflict.
After an explosion, mysterious fragments, evidently from some book or other, rain down while he camps in the wild interior of the Algonquin Park, a vast, untamed area of Ontario. Unaware of their nature, he brings the fragments back home with him, but soon finds others will stop at nothing to get hold of them. After repeated attempts on his life, he realises he must hide the fragments until he can get them into the right channels, whatever those channels are. As illness strikes the priest down, attempts by the ‘opposition’ to locate and seize the fragments intensify.
A parishioner, Tim Sullivan, recently retired from Britain’s Signals Intelligence Agency, the Government Communications Headquarters in Cheltenham, gets involved. Alerted by data the priest has left on his computer, Tim eventually hunts down the fragments and consults former colleagues. Their reaction is one of incredulity, and a train of events is now set in motion as cryptanalysts strive desperately to exploit text in a strange orthography, fearful the “opposition” may be making an equally concerted attack. What explosive secrets do the fragments conceal?
Father Mac is an extraordinary first novel of astonishing breadth. In it the reader is plunged into events in which the Church, the intelligence services, medicine and science all have a part to play.