On a dark, damp Sunday evening, a man taking a shortcut home sees a hand reaching out in supplication from a bundle of sacks. In an instant he knows something terrifying has happened. In the Highlands in the late 1950s, much of the local newspaper's success was due to Mrs. Smart, the no-nonsense office manager who kept everything and everyone in line. Her murder leaves her colleagues in shock and the Highland Gazette office in chaos. Joanne Ross, a budding reporter and shamefully separated mother, assumes Mrs. Smart's duties, but an intriguing stranger provides a distraction not only from the job and the investigation but from everything Joanne believes in.