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Joel Sloane, a bibliophile and amateur sleuth, is commissioned by befuddled grocery tycoon Christopher Oates to purchase an original Shakespeare manuscript from millionaire Nicholas Torrent. When Joel meets with Torrent's insurer, he learns that the insurance company suspects that Torrent's business affairs are improper, and he agrees to investigate the Torrent estate in exchange for an invitation to the Torrent house. Soon after Joel and his wife Garda take up residence in the Torrent mansion, a Shakespearian manuscript is stolen from Vincent Charlton, a family friend and Torrent's broker, who was examining the document, and Joel suspects Torrent's son Gerald of the theft. Joel questions Gerald, whose pencil was found on the floor near the safe after the robbery. When Gerald finds Joel's questioning too inquisitive, he reaches for his gun, but Joel disarms him. Later, Gerald places a call to Bobby Neville, the flirtatious girl friend of nightclub owner "Lucky" Nolan, and reports that the operation went haywire. Joel eavesdrops on the conversation and decides that a visit to Bobby will provide him with clues to the case. After he enters Bobby's room, however, the police rush in, and he is arrested along with Bobby in connection with the murder of Nicholas Torrent. Other suspects in Torrent's murder include Gerald, who stands to gain millions from his father's death; Phil Sergeant, the librarian, who is in love with Torrent's daughter Christina; and Lucky Nolan, to whom Gerald is in debt. Realizing that the stolen manuscript was actually a forgery, Joel asks police inspector Forbes to keep silent about the fake, hoping to force the manuscript's purchaser to reveal himself. Following his only lead, Joel visits Nolan, but soon realizes that the nightclub owner is innocent, his only interest being in the collection of Gerald's gambling debt. When Joel returns to the Torrent estate, he learns that Phil's only crime was in trying to protect Gerald, who had pawned the manuscript in order to pay his gambling debt. Soon after, Stockton, the owner of the purloined authentic manuscript, demands to meet with Joel and drives to the Torrent estate. Before he can show Joel the manuscript, however, Stockton is murdered and the transcript is found in Gerald's room. Believing that Gerald has been framed, Joel is at a loss for leads until Charlton decides to sell the manuscript for the Torrent family. Joel becomes suspicious after he advises Charlton that the manuscript is a fake and that he should file an insurance claim. When Charlton refuses to let him see the document, Joel realizes that he must have sold the original to Stockton and then murdered Torrent when he discovered the broker's duplicity.