Captivating debut thriller transports readers back to early days of the war that changed a generation


SAN FRANCISCO An explosion in the heart of Paris launches an international investigation that propels Doyle O’Gara, a computer scientist at a technology supplier to the CIA, from the periphery of the new war into its moral nerve center in Missions (April 16, Black Rose Writing) the debut novel of international lawyer Marc McGuire. As the suspense-filled investigation leaps from one surprising clue to the next, O’Gara hurtles toward a disastrous miscalculation and a moral dilemma that tests him and the country he serves.

The book is a fast-paced, thought-provoking political thriller with an offbeat plot and unexpected outcomes. The resurgence of Islamic jihad has inspired several best-selling novels, but Missions delves more deeply into the dark recesses of the human spirit that permit a select few to murder in the name of God or politics.  These new enemies emerge from the story not as cardboard background villains but rather as complex personalities fighting for causes they believe justify their crimes. 

With equal candor, Missions probes the corrosive effects such crimes may have on the liberal values of a free society. Seemingly minor errors in the translation of intercepted messages, combined with Doyle O’Gara’s silence during a critical meeting with the CIA, lead the investigation awry as French and American authorities rush to prevent a second attack. When O’Gara confronts the consequences of his mistakes in a Marseille hospital burn ward and finds himself facing criminal charges back home, he cannot avoid haunting questions about his personal responsibility in the midst of his nation’s war.

MARC McGUIRE is an American-born international business lawyer who has lived much of his career in Europe, first in Zurich, Switzerland, and later in Paris, France. He received his J.D. from UCLA School of Law, and he currently resides in California. Missions is his authorial debut.


Marc McGuire | April 16, 2020
Black Rose Writing | Political Thriller
Paperback | 978-1684334605 | $18.95

In an interview, Marc McGuire can discuss:

  • Why he chose to write a novel about Islamic jihad and the war the West declared against it
  • The impact of the conflict on the current generation of readers
  • His decision to set Missions in the early days of the new war
  • How his time living in Paris and Washington, D.C. influenced the story
  • The influence of his legal background on various aspects of the novel
  • How he branched out from being an international lawyer to becoming a novelist

An interview with Marc McGuire

1. How did you select the subject matter for Missions?

I wanted my first novel to arise from historical events that transformed my generation in some powerful way. One of my top candidates was the attack on Sept. 11 and its aftermath. Nothing else during my lifetime has stirred such a variety of strong emotions among so many people: feelings of loss, anger, fear, patriotism, suspicion, disillusionment and many other emotions. Missions takes place during the first year following the 9/11 attacks, when those feelings are still raw and the transformations of our society are still underway.

2. Much of the action in Missions takes place in Paris. How did your time living abroad affect the writing?

It is a big advantage to write about places one knows. Having lived in Paris for eight years, I can envision in some detail the scenes inhabited by Christine Dupont, the lead French investigator, as she pursues the urban jihadists. I have also spent considerable time in the other places featured in the novel: Washington, D.C., Marseille, Berlin, Istanbul and London. Following the characters into familiar environments helps me imagine what they are seeing and hearing, such as the experience of Mohammed Jamal and Sheik Musawi, two of the Paris plotters, meeting late at night on Austerlitz bridge over the Seine.

3. How has your experience in international law influenced the book?

Since I first began my law studies, I have always been fascinated by how societies resolve human conflicts and power relationships within various kinds of legal systems or, at times, outside such legal systems. In Missions, you can see one approach followed by the CIA against Doyle O’Gara and quite another followed by Mohammed Jamal and the Paris jihadists. Both approaches seem to fall short of achieving justice, but there are big differences between the two in terms of human costs and consequences.

4. Why did you set the story during the early days of the war against Islamic jihad?

That was a time period when the adversaries on both sides were developing their strategies for the long conflict ahead. The story in Missions may raise questions about where those early strategies are leading humanity today.

5. What does Missions tell us about the human condition?

Doyle O’Gara has a few things in common with Ali Benhadj, the Paris bomber, as well as many important differences. I think it is significant and a bit depressing that someone like Benhadj is capable of committing an act of suicide-murder, taking his own life and the lives of others who have never hurt or threatened him, all in the name of abstract ideas like Islam, while O’Gara is equally capable of killing adversaries he has never met, finding justification in different abstract ideas. As far as I know, humans are the only creatures on earth capable of such ideologically driven killing of their fellow creatures.