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At a London performance given by a ventriloquist-hypnotist called The Great Vorelli, newspaperman Mark English is puzzled by the tension that seems to exist between Vorelli and his dummy, Hugo. Marianne, English's fiancée, persuades her aunt to have Vorelli perform at a charity ball in her home so that English can get a closer look at the dummy. He finds nothing unusual about the dummy, but he awakens that night to find the dummy standing near his bed seeking help and telling English to "find me in Berlin 1948." English goes to Berlin, and he learns that Vorelli had worked there in 1948 with two partners, and that one of them was named Hugo. English locates the other partner, who confesses to seeing Vorelli kill Hugo and transfer his soul to a dummy. Returning to London, English finds Marianne under the hypnotic influence of Vorelli, who plans to transfer her soul to a female dummy. Hugo revolts, destroys the female dummy, and attacks Vorelli. Vorelli's soul then becomes confined to the dummy, and Hugo's soul enters Vorelli's body.