Santa Maria, the Solomon Islands, 1941. According to Father Goode, the worst thing Corrigan ever did was impregnate his housekeeper during the Sunday service. Well, almost the worst thing. Later, while she is on a rescue mission to save a native chief on an outlying island, he also raped and murdered his niece, Rachel. At least that's what he tells the British District Officer, Ian Manning. But the next day Rachel returns safe and sound; and besides, Manning has problems enough of his own. The Japanese have captured Singapore and the islands will soon fall into their hands. The Americans are making a vital stand on Guadalcanal. And they need someone to stay behind wehen everyone else is evacuated, and man the radio, to spy on the Japanese. The archetypal hard-drinking self destructive remittance man, Corrigan has no intention of leaving his life of depravity; after he's Irish and neutral. And Father Goode will not abandon his flock. But when the Japanese arrive, and Father Goode is arrested, the situation becomes more complicated. And when Rachel comes to Patrick Corrigan for his help, it gets more complicated still. As the battle for nearby Guadalcanal reaches its climax, the fate of the Marines stationed there, and perhaps the fate of the whole Pacific, rests on the daily reports of one Englishman with a radio. But when he is injured, who is going to take over? And finally Patrick Corrigan must make the choice; whether he will keep running away, as he has all his life; or stay and fight for the first cause he has come to believe in - a missionary's niece called Rachel Goode.