Susan Trent is in her sixties, the owner of a good-sized house in a prosperous village. Her job in the estate agent of the nearby town keeps her active, as does her garden. She ought to be well-satisfied with her lot. Instead she lives in terror of her semi-employed, abusive, middle-aged son. Her friends and neighbours suspects her cuts and bruises are caused by his fists, not by her clumsy falls as she claims, but no-one voices their fears to her. They keep a wary eye on the situation and wonder between themselves why she doesn't bar him from the house. Then a stranger comes to lodge in the village and his arrival triggers a series of events which eventually reveal why Susan has been so protective of her son, but not until more of her blood is spilled.