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When notorious criminal "Killer" Delmar escapes from prison, the editor of The Morning Gazette orders his star reporter, Jimmy Hawley, to go to the train station, as Delmar is expected to try to board the nightly express from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Jimmy reluctantly goes to the station, and while the police unsuccessfully search for Delmar, Jimmy falls in love with Alice Murray when she kisses him in the midst of the confusion caused by a bridal party. Meanwhile, Delmar is slipped on the train in a coffin, and his wife, disguised as a widow named Mrs. Leonard, also boards. Jimmy also boards the train to be with Alice. Other passengers include Graham, who blames Chambers for his conviction as an embezzler; Chick Lewis, the informer responsible for Delmar's imprisonment; Mazie Wilson, a "hop fiend" who, under the name of Eileen Ayensworth, has gotten on the train to steal a valuable diamond bracelet Chambers is carrying; and a drunk who continually pesters Jimmy. Later that night, Chambers is stabbed to death, and after the murder is discovered, suspicion falls on all of the passengers except Jimmy. Delmar's wife was seen stealing a steak knife from the dining car before the murder, while both Delmar and Lewis were at liberty at the time of Chambers' death. Mazie's monogrammed cigarette is found in Chambers' hand, but it is Alice's handbag in which the diamond bracelet is discovered. Mazie finally admits that she stole the bracelet but insists that she did not commit the murder. While everyone is in a state of confusion, Delmar again escapes from his coffin and kills the engineer and the fireman. Soon after, Lewis is trying to escape from the train when he is also stabbed. Delmar then reappears, blocking the passage to the engine as the train careens out of control. Jimmy captures Delmar and forces him to confess that he killed Lewis. Delmar maintains, however, that Graham stabbed Chamber out of revenge for Chamber's having caused his imprisonment. Delmar escapes, but is subdued by the others while Jimmy is able to bring the train to a safe stop. With the case solved, Jimmy and Alice continue on to San Francisco to be married.