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Private detective Christopher Adams is trying to recover an antique, Chinese jade lion for an insurance company. The trail leads him to a Mexican café in Los Angeles, where he is supposed to meet a man called Gomez. However, before they can negotiate, Gomez becomes involved in a gunfight with the police and is killed. After Christopher discovers that Gomez was carrying a matchbook from the Mission Bell Auto Court, he checks in there to continue the investigation and in the motel's cocktail lounge meets Alice Ashley, who is also interested in the jade lion. When Christopher walks Alice back to her bungalow, they kiss, and she steals his wallet. As soon as he discovers his loss, he goes to Alice's room but finds her stabbed to death on the floor. After recovering his wallet and taking her purse, he then phones the police. Another lodger, widow Theresa Appleby, overhears Christopher's call and tells him that she is there to write her first detective novel. Christopher then mistakes a rehearsal of a knife throwing act by the motel's owners, former vaudevillians Gus and Martha Barton, as a murder attempt. When police lieutenant Sam Wilson shows up, he suspects Christopher of being responsible for Alice's murder. Two rival art dealers are also registered at the hotel, both expecting to be able to acquire the jade lion, and one of them is stabbed to death. Several of Barton's knives are missing and Wilson feels he has enough evidence to arrest him for the murders. Later, Christopher and Wilson discover that the jade lion is concealed inside a brick. Patrick Macy, a bartender at the motel's cocktail lounge, goes to Christopher's room and demands the brick. He reveals that Alice was his wife and that he killed her because she was double-crossing him and also admits to killing the art dealer. Macy throws a knife, which misses Christopher but thoroughly pierces a door, and during a fight with Christopher, he falls on the knife and dies. The eavesdropping Mrs. Appleby, who took notes on Macy's confessions, confirms Christopher's story to the police and the case is closed. As a reward, Mrs. Appleby receives a kiss from Christopher.