Tom, an invalid World War II veteran, lives with the help of his housekeeper Ivy in The Willows. No one knows his son is in prison for murder. Richard Gardner lives down the road with his second wife, Verity, and her two sons. No one knows she is seriously disturbed. Young Mark Conway is learning some nasty lessons while in the care of his baby-sitter Ivy, old Tom's housekeeper. No one knows Ivy's teenage stepson, Steve, has some very dangerous tendencies. No one except Marigold Darwin. Marigold Darwin, a retired civil servant, has returned to Haverscot, the village where, as a child, she lived in Richard Gardner's house. As she house hunts, she meets Mark and one of Richard Gardner's hostile stepsons ... and is drawn into the lives of the boys and their families, gradually becoming aware of the conflicts, fears, and serious intents among them. Marigold makes some plans of her own. She realizes that tensions are building to the breaking point, some of the children are violent, and lives may be at risk - even Marigold's own.