‘In March 1970, as a direct result of the May 1969 racial riots, I left Malaysia.’ Thus begins the story of Lim Ai Lian, a Chinese Malaysian. In Germany she meets and falls in love with Michael Templeton, an Englishman born and brought up in the district of Ulu Banir, where his father, Jonathan Templeton, now a Malaysian citizen, owns a plantation. In late 1973, Ai Lian returns home to be with her sick and dying father. The following February she pays the Templetons a long delayed visit. On the day of her arrival a murder takes place and Ai Lian is soon involved in trying to find the murderer. In the process she finds herself learning about racial prejudice, truth and deception, guilt and innocence, womanhood, love, and the way past silences echo into the present.