Beyond high iron gates fastened shut with a length of chain, lies the stark, beautiful Trawbawn. Here, haunted by a dark, mysterious past and largely ignored by the people of nearby Skibbereen, lives the frail Lydia Beauchamp. But old Ma Beauchamp's private existence is interrupted when a stranger arrives - a young man called Adam who wanders into the vast grounds of Trawbawn and becomes one of Lydia's most welcome contacts with the outside world. When Lydia sets her new confidante a challenge, he eagerly accepts - Adam must travel to Dublin to find her estranged daughter. But it is a task tainted by an air of menace. For what terrible past has driven a daughter from her mother? And what true motive lies behind Adam's generous act? Soon the unlikely friends are entwined in a deadly game, and a pursuit born of an old lady's desire for peace mutates into a terrible, relentless need for revenge . . .