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In London in 1890, after an innocent man is convicted of the murder of Hannah Kendall and hanged, police superintendent George Edward Grodman, whose testimony based on circumstantial evidence helped to convict the man, is forced to resign. Grodman's rival, John R. Buckley, is made superintendent in his place. Later, Grodman's neighbors, Victor Emmric and Arthur Kendall, Hannah's nephew, gather at his house for a small party. When Clive Russell, a member of Parliament, arrives, however, a quarrel over politics breaks out between him and Kendall, and the party ends abruptly. Outside, Russell threatens Kendall and is overheard by Lottie, a music hall performer and Kendall's mistress. After Russell leaves, Lottie accuses Kendall of giving her fake jewels and demands the return of a watch fob she gave him. Kendall puts her off and crosses the street to his rooming house. The next morning, when Mrs. Benson, the landlady, fails to rouse Kendall from his sleep, she begs Grodman to break down the door. Grodman does as she asks and announces that Kendall has been stabbed. Buckley examines the room and ascertains that the windows and doors are locked and bolted. Later, Buckley discovers Lottie searching Kendall's room. When he questions her, she explains that she is looking for Kendall's watch fob. Because the fob is nowhere in the room, a skeptical Buckley arrests Lottie. Grodman then suggests that they check Kendall's grave for the fob, and it is found in his pocket. Later, at the music hall, Lottie tells Victor and Grodman that Kendall knew that Russell was involved with a married woman. When Russell returns home from visiting his constituency, he discovers that his room has been searched. Troubled, he consults with Grodman. Unknown to him, Victor is eavesdropping on their conversation from inside a closet. Russell tells Grodman that he was visiting the woman he loves at the time of the murder, but refuses to name her because she is not yet divorced. Later, Lottie tells Buckley that Kendall knew about Russell's love affair and demands that he arrest him. The circumstantial evidence convinces Buckley that Russell murdered Kendall, and he persuades the jury to find him guilty and sentence him to death. When Russell's final appeal is denied, he finally names Lady Pendleton as his mistress, but she dies in France before Grodman can obtain her testimony. That evening, Grodman writes the last chapter of a book about his famous cases. The next day, at Scotland Yard, Grodman reveals that Kendall killed his aunt, who was intending to write him out of her will. The night before Kendall's death, Grodman, aware that Kendall was the killer, put a sleeping potion in his drink. He then killed Kendall after he knocked down the door, to avenge both Hannah and the innocent man who died for the murder. Grodman adds that he waited until the last minute to confess in order to humiliate Buckley.