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Fearing that his life is in danger, wealthy Greek financier Ramon Karadis installs a direct line to Scotland Yard in his suburban London home. During a visit to Karadis' estate, Superintendent Meredith is notified by the Yard that London playboy John Lexman has confessed to a shooting. While investigating the murder, Meredith learns that the gun Lexman used was given to him by Karadis. Meredith's suspicions that Karadis tricked Lexman into committing the crime increase when the suicide of a rich widow reveals that the woman was being blackmailed by Karadis. Lexman escapes from prison and arranges to meet Meredith at his office. Meanwhile, an eccentric novelist, Dr. Griswold, is seen leaving the Karadis estate. Just after Lexman arrives at Scotland Yard for his appointment, the Karadis direct line rings. Meredith and Lexman rush to the mansion and find Karadis' corpse in a room locked from the inside. The only clues are two partly burned candles--one near the door and one near the telephone. Reconstructing the murder, Meredith shows how the killer gained time for an alibi by using burning candles: as they melted, they caused the door latch to lock and the direct telephone line to activate. Finally, Meredith reveals that Dr. Griswold is still abroad and that Lexman disguised himself as the author in order to kill Karadis. Lexman, Karadis' junior partner in a blackmail racket, committed the murder in order to take over the business.