When Laurence Waters arrives at his rural hospital posting in a former homeland of the new South Africa, Frank, a fellow doctor there, is instantly suspicious. Laurence is everything Frank is not – young, optimistic, and full of new schemes. The two become uneasy friends, while the rest of the meagre staff in the deserted hospital view Laurence with a mixture of awe and mistrust.
The tired, ghostly town beyond the hospital is also coping with new arrivals, and the return of old faces. The Brigadier, a self-fashioned dictator from apartheid days, is rumoured to be still alive. And down at Mama’s Place, the town’s only watering hole, a group of soldiers have moved in with their malign commandant, a man Frank has met before and is keen to avoid for his own dark reasons. Laurence wants to help – but in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last.