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 rumored 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.