Martin Drake meets Jennifer West in an auction house. Three years ago, he had fallen in love with her during a brief but intense encounter on a railway platform — after which she vanished. Now it seems she is engaged to Richard Fleet, whom she’s known since they were children together. And when they were children, Richard’s father Sir George died when he fell off the roof of their home, Fleet House. It was generally accepted as an accident, but a series of mysterious happenings cause the case to be re-opened.
Sir Henry Merrivale, detective and explainer of the impossible, is also at the auction and revives his old antagonism with Sophia, Dowager Countess of Brale, who is Jenny’s grandmother. Arthur Puckston keeps the pub across the road from Fleet House and was an eyewitness to Sir George’s death.
When his daughter, Enid Puckston, is found murdered in what might be a haunted prison, Sir Henry takes a hand and reveals not only the identity of the murderer but the unusual psychology that underlies the case.