When Bertha Harris’s husband dies she draws comfort from routine and expects the rest of her life to drift by in the same quiet, uneventful way. But she hasn’t reckoned on her nephews and niece, who are quick on the uptake that Bertha is that most desirable of relatives: a wealthy and childless widow.

It does not escape Bertha that the common thread in her young relatives’ lives is a lack of money, but she hadn’t bargained on one of them becoming impatient and orchestrating a string of accidents to claim their inheritance early. And Bertha, suspicious of everyone, is painfully aware that the familiar walls of her flat are becoming as much a prison as a refuge.