Mrs. Gillespie is famous around the northwest of Sutherland for being the best charwoman ever. Of course, if anyone has any social pretensions one does not say charwoman, one talks about "my maid".
Hamish Macbeth wins Mrs. Gillespie's services in a church raffle but spends most of the day trying to avoid her. She is a malicious gossip and she bangs around the furniture and clanks pots - he wonders how on earth she managed to get such a good reputation.
Then she is found dead in a large house belonging to a retired professor who was out the day she was killed. She has been struck down by a metal bucket of water. Remembering Mrs. Gillespie's malicious gossip, Hamish is sure she delighted in finding out secrets and probably searched through the drawers of the houses she cleaned, which means everyone whose home she cleaned could be a suspect.