Lovatt Island is one of a group of beautiful, uninhabited islands, near the isolated village of Innellan in south-west Scotland. The skeleton found in one of its sea-caves, shackled to the rock, looks like the relic of some long ago conflict, but the modern watch clasped around its bony wrist gives the lie to that. It presents a challenging, if not urgent case for DI Marjory Fleming. But in the village there is an atmosphere of fear and tension and unpleasant vandalism; a house set on fire. The rank smell of hatred is in the air and Fleming is desperate to prevent more violence.