Narrated by Robert Anstey, who is acting as Thorndyke’s counsel as Jervis is away in America. He walks right into a murder scene, attracted by the screams of a beautiful young woman. The dead man is a harmless old bachelor who collects objects of arcane appeal. Several pieces of inscribed jewelry are missing. It’s a strange sort of burglary perpetrated by clumsy amateurs – who nonetheless got clean away. Dr. Thorndyke takes on the case and enlists Anstey as his sidekick. Anstey makes a perfect foil for the great forensics expert, since he misses the significance of everything. There is murder, love, and a form of code to be deciphered to prove an inheritance. The plot, which is ingenious and complex, includes a contested inheritance with a fascinating history. And the reader is treated to plenty of scientific and analytic exploits by Dr. Thorndyke. We watch him test for poison; take impressions of fingerprints, handprints and footprints; detect secret chambers; and interpret coded messages.