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Charles Dobbs, a security agent for the British Foreign Office, is assigned to do a routine check on a government employee who anonymously has been accused of being a Communist. Shortly after clearing the man, Dobbs is stunned to learn he has committed suicide, leaving behind a typed suicide note stating that his career had been ruined by paid informers. Dobbs is so outraged when his superiors insist upon closing the case that he resigns his post and sets out to prove that the man was murdered. After enlisting the aid of a retired police officer, Mendel, Dobbs visits the dead man's widow, Elsa Fennan, a Jewish victim of Nazi concentration camps. His suspicions are further aroused when he catches her in a lie and then later learns that the anonymous letter to the Foreign Office accusing Fennan of being a Communist and the suicide note both came from the same typewriter. Returning home, Dobbs is greeted by an old friend, Dieter Frey, who has arrived in London to do business for a Zurich candy firm. And Dobb's problems are compounded by the discovery that his frequently unfaithful wife, Ann, has seduced Dieter. Resuming their investigation, Dobbs and Mendel uncover clues which lead them first to a garage, then to an office building, and finally to a repertory theater. When it becomes apparent that Elsa Fennan is a Communist, Dobbs realizes her husband must also have discovered this and, therefore, had to be silenced. Certain that Elsa meets her contact at the repertory theater, Dobbs and Mendel set a trap; during a performance of Marlowe's Edward II they catch her sitting next to the Russian agent--Dieter Frey. Quick to sense he has been tricked, Dieter murders Elsa in her seat and makes a getaway during the confusion. Dobbs and Mendel give chase and corner him on a houseboat in Chelsea. Although Dieter kills Mendel, he hesitates to shoot his wartime comrade. Dobbs, however, takes advantage of the respite; overpowering Dieter, he savagely beats him and then watches as his body falls into the water and is crushed between two houseboats. The affair over, Dobbs flies to Zurich to inform his wife that Dieter will not make their planned rendezvous.