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In Los Angeles, Frank Bigelow enters a police station to report that he was poisoned the previous night in San Francisco and will soon die. Upon questioning by the police chief, Frank recounts the events that led him to this fateful moment: Two days earlier in Banning, California, Frank, a notary and tax consultant, bids farewell to his secretary and girl friend, Paula Gibson, departing for a short vacation to San Francisco. When Frank arrives at his hotel, Paula telephones to tell him that Eugene Philips, of Philips' Import and Exporting Company, urgently needs to speak with him and refuses to leave a message. That evening Sam Haskell, a guest in the room opposite Frank's, invites him to a party which eventually ends up at a bar on the Embarcadero. In the bar, Frank leaves his drink momentarily unattended and a shadowy figures replaces it with another without Frank's knowledge. Frank drinks from the glass, noticing a strange taste, but nothing more. The next morning Frank feels vaguely ill and is eventually disturbed enough to go to a medical center for an examination. After several tests, the doctor informs Frank he has ingested a fatal amount of luminous toxic poison that will kill him in the next few days. Panicked, Frank goes to another hospital where he receives the same prognosis. Frantic to find out why he has been poisoned, Frank returns to the Embarcadero bar, which is closed, then looks for Haskell, who has already checked out. Later, Paula telephones again and informs him that Philips, the man trying so desperately to contact him, died the day before. Driven by an impulse, Frank goes to Philips' Los Angeles office, where his secretary, Miss Foster, tells him that Philips committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of his highrise apartment. The company controller, Halliday, claims no knowledge of why Philips sought to speak to Frank. Frank then goes to see Philips' widow and brother Stanley, but both are evasive, although Stanley does explain that his brother had sold a rare form of iridium, a luminous toxine, and faced possible imprisonment, which drove him to suicide. Back at the hotel, Paula again telephones Frank to say she has discovered that some months prior, Frank notarized a bill of sale of iridium from a George Reynolds to Philips. Returning to question Mrs. Philips, Frank discovers that both the bill of sale and Reynolds have disappeared. Believing that all evidence of the sale is being systematically eliminated, Frank thinks he has the motive for his poisoning and is determined to find the culprit. Convinced that Philips was also murdered, Frank again questions Miss Foster, who reveals that on the day of his death Philips saw Marla Rakubian, a model and former girl friend. Frank goes to see Marla and accuses her of being in league with Reynolds, then takes a portrait picture she has of Reynolds. Frank tries to locate Reynolds through the portrait studio, but instead discovers Reynolds' real name is Raymond Rakubian. When he goes to see Reynolds at the address provided by the photographers, Frank finds an abandoned warehouse and is fired upon. After returning to Philips' office, Frank is kidnapped by Chester, a henchman of Reynolds' gangster uncle, Mr. Majak, the illegal purchaser of the iridium. Majak insists that his nephew cannot be connected to the murders as he has been dead for five months. Frank escapes from Majak, and goes back to Philips' office where Stanley, who has just been poisoned by Halliday, gives him evidence that the controller and Mrs. Philips had been having an affair for over two years. At her apartment, Mrs. Philips admits that her husband had just discovered the affair and fallen from the balcony in a struggle with Halliday. The critical bill of sale proved the original transaction was legal and was not motive for a suicide. Believing Philips had succeeded in contacting Frank, Halliday poisoned him. Frank returns to Philips' office, finds Halliday and kills him. As he finishes reciting his story at the police station, Frank calls out for Paula before slumping to the floor, dead.