The Good Terrorist is a story of a group of Communist living in London during the 1980’s. Alice Mellings and her friend Jasper join a group who are squatting in an abandoned house, Number 43. Alice is appalled by the living conditions of the group. There is no running water or electricity in the house. The garden is filled with trash and the upstairs is filled with buckets filled the feces. The house reeks of sewage. The neighbors do not like the occupants and call the police to complain of the smell and the trash.
To make the group accepted, Alice cleans up the house mainly on her own, but with some help from Pat and Philip. Philip is a contractor who needs a place to stay. He agrees to help get the place in order for a fraction of what he normally gets paid. Pat helps because she agrees that the living conditions are deplorable. Alice meets with the Council and gets Mary Williams to get Number 43 on the roster to try to save and make a legitimate squat. She also gets water, gas and electric for the house. Alice gets money by stealing a rug from her mother and selling it and stealing money from her father’s coat pocket. She does not see this as wrong for she condemns his bourgeois lifestyle.
The group spends their time protesting against the government, while receiving payments from the government for not working. They attend rallies to support the working class, but the people striking do not want their radical involvement in their protest. The group claims to support the working class, but do not work themselves or have ever worked. Alice rails against her parent’s lifestyle, but makes the squat a comfortable home fit for a bourgeois family. She likes her comforts and does not understand the struggle of the working class.
The police do not like Number 43. Alice deals with the police because she can keep calm and deal with them without causing more trouble. The occupants of the house include Bert, the leader who is not an officiant leader. Pat, his lover, who is more serious in the case than anyone else in the house. She finds the group to be amateurs and eventually leaves. Faye has had a hard life and has mental issues that cause her to fly into violent rages. Roberta is Faye’s lover and caregiver. She makes sure that Faye takes her medicines and soothes her when she has her rages. Jim, the person who first occupied the empty house. He does not like that the others have taken over the house. Philip, the contractor, who is always taken advantage of by his clients because he is seen as weak. Mary Williams and her fiancée, Reggie enter the house for helping to get it approved by the Council. They want a cheap place to live to safe up for their future.
Alice helps Jim to get a job at her father’s publishing company. Jim wants to work and is unhappy with just sitting around all day with nothing to do. He is happy once he has a job and is grateful to Alice. Alice ruins his job when she goes to the office to see her father and is told he has left for the weekend. She takes the opportunity to steal thousands of dollars that the secretary is preparing for deposit. On Monday, the theft is discovered by her father and Jim is blamed. He blames Alice for making him belief in himself and then having his dreams crushed. He packs his things and leaves the house and is not heard from again.
Alice goes to her father and admits that she stole the money. Her father is astounded and cannot believe she would do this to him. His company is in financial distress and he cannot afford to lose any money. He wants nothing more to do with Alice and will not give her any more support.
Alice and the group at Number 43 have a meeting of all the members of the Communist Centre Union. They proclaim it to be their first National Congress. The weekend is a success and they meet many of the members from throughout England.
The house next to the groups’, Number 45, is also a squat, but an unofficial one. Alice convinces the leader, Andrew, a Russian, to clean up the trash in the garden so as not to draw attention from the neighbors and the police. Andrew is seen as a true Communist group leader and the occupants of Number 43 take direction from him. He encourages them to seek guidance from the Russians and Burt and Jasper go to Russia to seek approval. They are not accepted.
Andrew attempts to get Alice to leave Jasper while he is in Russia. He believes she is destined for much more important things. Alice does not agree with his methods and sees his plans as selling out. She does want to leave Jasper. No one in her life has ever liked him and they have tried to get her to leave him, but she has always stayed with him. Alice now sees that she would be better off without Jasper. Her plans are derailed when Roberta’s mother becomes ill and Alice must watch out for Faye while Roberta is gone. Faye attempts to kill herself and Alice with help from Philip save her life. They cannot take her to the hospital because of possible warrants against her and the questions that will be asked. Roberta returns when Alice gets word to her of Faye’s suicide attempt.
Caroline and Jocelin move into Number 43 when Number 45 is vacated. Alice enjoys Caroline’s company and Jocelin spends all her time in her room. Philip feels that he is taken advantage of in the house. He helped fix it up for barely any pay and no one bothers to help him. He asks Alice to help him on his latest job for a Greek restaurant so that he can finish the project. Alice knows that the owner will not pay him the full payment because he sees Philip as weak. This is what happens when the owner does not approve Philip’s finished work as worth their agreement and pays less than what he is owned.
Philip tries to get Alice to team up with him in his business. He sees the group as championing for the working class, but they never do anything to help. They are useless and a drain on society. Philip is a member of the working class, the class that keeps everything going. He storms out of the house. Alice finds out from Felicity, Philip’s ex-girlfriend, that he was hit by a car and in the hospital. He dies from his injuries. No one in the house seems to care about this.
Two men drop two packages at Number 43. Alice does not want to accept them, but the men were told to leave them there, so they leave them. They carry the boxes up to the attic to hide them. A man comes the next day to question why Alice was unwilling to accept the packages. She tells him that they do not want to be part of whatever the man is doing. He asks for the packages back and is told they were taken to the dump. He is very upset and says he will be back if he does not find them. It is discovered that Jocelin makes bombs in her room. She takes Alice out with her to survey a place to test one of her bombs. Alice is excited by this. The next day they set the bomb where they scouted the day before with Bert’s help. They set the bomb and walk sedately back to the house. When they are almost there, they hear the thud of the bomb going off.
The group agree that the packages in the attic must be disposed of. Jocelin wants to see what is in the boxes before they are taken. They open them to discover a cache of guns. They dispose of the boxes in a scrap metal yard.
The news of their bombing gets only a blurb in the paper. This frustrates the group. They begin to plan a bigger project. Alice goes to see her mother. She is offended that her mother now lives in a small apartment and not the large house where she once lived. She will not listen to her mother when she tells Alice that her living here is Alice’s fault. Alice and Jasper lived with Dorothy Mellings for four years and she had to move because Mr. Mellings could no longer pay for the house. He had given Dorothy money to fix up the upper floor as a flat to be rented out to pay for the house, but she used it on Alice and Jasper. If she had not taken them in, she would still be in her home. She tells Alice that she never wants to see her again.
Mary and Reggie not liking the vibe in the house decide to move out. The group is happy to see them go. They help Mary and Reggie pack their moving van, while Alice goes to Philip’s funeral. They plan to set their bomb that evening at the location they decided. The night before Bert, Jocelin and Jasper steal a car and Jocelin plants the bomb in the car. Returning from the funeral, Alice learns that Caroline will not be part of the bombing. She does not like that the group choose a time that could cause fatalities. Alice was left out of this discussion because she also would have objected.
The plan is for Faye and Jasper to drive the car to the location and park the car as close to the hotel they have chosen as possible. Jocelin will go with them to the car, but then get a bus to the location. Bert, Roberta and Alice will go to the location near the time of the bombing to witness it. A man stops by the house as the group is waiting for the time to go to the hotel. Peter Cecil wants to talk to Alice about number 45. She is distracted by the bombing and tells him that she will meet him for lunch tomorrow.
Bert, Roberta and Alice wait anxiously at the location for Faye and Jasper to arrive. Alice has a moment of weakness and goes into the hotel. She calls the Samaritan’s and tells them about the bombing. She claims it is the IRA. The car is late getting to the location. The bomb is set on a timer that will go off at a quarter to five. The car finally appears, and Faye is driving. There are no parking spots, so they must circle the block. They finally find a spot and Faye runs the car up onto the sidewalk then back into a parking spot. Jasper gets out of the car and goes around the car when Faye does not get out. The bomb goes off with Faye in the car. Roberta runs to Faye and cradles her in her arms. Alice goes to her and tries to make her come away. Jasper runs away. Roberta and Alice get caught up in the mess of police and ambulances. They are taken to the hospital as possible victims of the bombing. Roberta is checked out at the hospital and released.
When they return to the house, they find Bert tending to Jasper’s wounds. He explains that he was in an accident that is why they were late getting to the hotel. The bomb went off early because Faye set the bomb and she must have set the bomb earlier than intended. When she ran onto the pavement she was thrown against the wheel and must have lost her breath. Jasper was going to help her when the bomb went off. Five people were killed, and twenty-three people injured. The blast is blamed on the IRA. No one believes them when they release a statement saying they had nothing to do with it. The group agrees to disband in case anyone connects them to the bombing. Alice stays behind reluctant to leave the house. She sits in the kitchen while she waits for her lunch date with Peter Cecil, who she believes is an agent of the government. Alice seems to have lost her drive for revolution.