Jessie Banner, aged nearly nine, is tormented by Louisa, aged 15, with the idea that there are ghosts and spirits in the woods, and something nasty lives in the boarded-up well. They are on an island off the coast of Mexico and Jessie’s father has rented the house, belonging to a Mrs Wakefield, who is about to descend on them for a visit. There are several mysteries to be solved, in the course of this novel, including what happened to Mrs Wakefield’s husband, and her Downs Syndrome son, Billy. Mr Roma, and his wife Carmelita are the servants who live in three rooms built above the garage, with their daughter Louisa. They have certain suspicions about the previous activities of Janet Wakefield.
Then Mrs Wakefield, a mature women of considerable charm, descends upon them to make an inventory of the house’s valuables. Mark finds himself attracted to her but his wife Evelyn suspects Janet Wakefield of being after her husband and she’s quite right. But is that the sole member of the Banner family that Janet Wakefield wants to seduce? Janet Wakefield’s monstrous ego has other preoccupations.
This is a tale of forbidden desire and it is one that threatens to end in tragedy for Jessie. Mr Roma and his wife Carmelita may just be the servants, but in the way of those who know Janet Wakefield, they have fears of their own about past – and future – deeds.