A man is brutally murdered by an unseen assailant. We glimpse the murder weapon, a steel spearhead with a scythe-like hook on the side, mounted on a shaft. Some days later, Jack Taylor is returning to his beloved Galway after having been away for a year. Jack is clean, sober and determined to stay away from trouble and not to get sucked back into the cycle of death and violence again. However, his resolve not to take on any jobs is immediately tested when the dead man’s mother, who knows Jack, begs for his help.
To complicate Jack’s investigation, an enthusiastic young man called Cody, who hero-worships Jack as the best private eye in Ireland, shows up on his doorstep, wanting to be Jack’s new partner. Jack tells him to get lost, but worse is to follow when Ann Hennessey, his old flame from ‘The Guards’ for whom he still carries a torch, comes back into his life when he least needs it. She is now in a relationship with a successful businessman who also happens to beat her up. Jack is enraged and wants simply to tear the man’s heart out.
Jack uncovers a group of vigilantes calling themselves ‘The Pike men’ after some old Irish freedom fighters. They are local men who are sick of what Galway has become and want to return to the way it used to be – a safe city, governed by the ‘tribes’ who meted out justice to anyone who overstepped their mark. Realising that Jack is close to cracking the case, the Pikemen ask him to join them. He is, after all, just like them, a man who hates injustice and sometimes metes out his own personal brand of retribution.
However, Jack refuses their offer. Then Ann Hennessey’s businessman is murdered and suddenly Jack finds himself as the main suspect, with all the evidence pointing to him. Inspector Clancy promptly has him arrested. Jack realises that nobody believes his innocence. Ann now never wants to see him again and even his old ally Kate thinks that he did it.
The naive, enthusiastic Cody is Jack’s only friend. Jack escapes from custody and is forced to go on the run. With time running out and the net closing around him, he must find the killer and prove his own innocence before he is caught and convicted.
Jack is pushed to the brink like never before. He realises that the only way to see justice done is to do the very thing he has been trying to avoid – to become like the Pikemen.