A woman wades into the waters of Morecambe Bay in a drunken bid to commit suicide. She finds herself instead saving the life of a young Chinese cockle picker, a survivor of a tragic mass drowning. Wen and Angie share neither language nor experience, but she agrees to let him stay with her and disappear. Within a short time their unlikely pairing blossoms into something darkly passionate. But Wen is still in debt to the snakeheads who brought him out of China. And when his sister, Lili, travels to Britain, she unwittingly seals his fate.