Mrs. Gillespie is famous for being the best maid in the northwest of Sutherland. But to Hamish Macbeth, she is a malicious gossip who bangs around the furniture and clanks pots. When Hamish wins Mrs. Gillespie's services in a church raffle, he spends most of the day trying to avoid her. He doesn't understand how she managed to gain such a fine reputation. Then she is found dead, struck down violently by a metal bucket of water. Knowing Mrs. Gillespie's penchant for gossip, Hamish is sure she delighted in finding out her clients' secrets--which means that everyone whose home she cleaned is a suspect.