November 1978. Britain is on strike. The dead lie unburied, rubbish piles in the streets - and somewhere is West London a black woman dies in a rain-soaked gutter.
Her passing would have gone unmourned but for the young woman who finds her and who believes - apparently against reason - that Annie was murdered. But whatever the truth about Annie - whether she was as mad as her neighbours claimed, whether she lived in squalor as the police said - something passed between her and Mrs Ranelagh in the moment of death which binds this one woman to her cause for the next twenty years.
But why is Mrs Ranelagh so convinced it was murder when by her own account Annie died without speaking? And why would any woman spend twenty painstaking years uncovering the truth - unless her reasons are personal . . . ?