Hill House private nursing-home, attractively sited above Bournemouth shore, cares most competently for the sick. But two convalescent patients suddenly die, and actress Helen Markham leaves the stage and totters into the nursing-home as the weak-minded Miss Jones.
For there is already a patient at Hill House who is not what he or she seems. It could be the boring and amiable Mr Thomas. Courteous Mr Corlett or wild-eyed Miss Welch. Mrs Anthony always smiling or Mrs Stoddart forever anticipating tea. Any one of the patients could be matching the quick mind of Helen Markham behind Miss Jones’s blank stare. And who is the young man who haunts the corridors and cruelly tests all Helen’s courage and acting skill?
There are no answers at The Laurels, the mock-Tudor pile where Helen’s mysterious mentor lives with his daughter and where Helen learns her most difficult role. But here at least she can be herself – until a discovery which makes it seem there is no one in either house whom she can trust.
And when her job is done she must face the most terrible ordeal of all, the danger of death in the night against which she has been instructed not to defend herself.