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Just after the notorious Duke Jarvis gang robs his bank of $300,000, bank manager Floyd Sorelson calls the police and insurance offical George Detrich. A frightened teller is able to describe Jarvis as a blonde man with highly polished nails, and the police begin setting up roadblocks to nab him. Meanwhile, Jarvis and his men go to a garage run by Spike Edwards, who hides the loot in the running board of their getaway car. Jarvis and his men drive away, but when the police stop them at a roadblock, Jarvis panics and races off. He loses control of the car, which careens off a cliff. All of the men are killed, but the stolen money is not found. Two weeks later, Detrich is consulting with Sorelson, who is demanding the money's return, when they are interrupted by Tom Dwyer, a cocky private detective who offers to recover the money for a ten-percent finder's fee. Although Detrich does not like Tom, Sorelson hires him. Tom then goes to Ocean City, where carnival sideshow operator Ferrara has installed the "Jarvis death car" in his show of horrors, having purchased the vehicle in a public auction. At the carnival, Tom runs into Bonnie, an old girl friend, and is going through a roller coaster tunnel with her when Edwards' corpse is dropped in their car. Although the authorities are suspicious when Tom declares that Edwards was strangled with something thin, like picture wire, Tom states that he has seen similar murders in the past. Tom then goes to a nightclub to question singer Sheila Kennedy, whose picture he found in Edwards' pocket. After getting nothing but a warning from the flirtatious Sheila, Tom takes Bonnie to Ferrara's exhibit and examines the car. Tom asks about buying the vehicle, but Ferrara explains that he has already made a deal with someone else. After he leaves, Tom is followed but escapes his pursuer. Later that night, he returns to Ferrara's, where he finds that Ferrara has been knocked unconscious by an unseen assailant. The only clue Tom finds at the scene is one of Sheila's handkerchiefs, and when he returns it to her the next day, he tells her that someone is trying to frame her. Sheila admits that she was Jarvis' girl friend, but insists that she has come to Ocean City to escape her past. They then go to the nightclub, and there Tom sees Ed MacGuire, a killer who known as "Wires" because he strangles his victims with picture wire. Tom follows Wires and his henchman, Haynes, to Ferrara's and learns that they are the ones who purchased Jarvis' car. Although Tom has deduced that Wires murdered Edwards, he cannot reveal his conclusions to police lieutenant Blake because Haynes has a hidden gun aimed at him. The men depart, and later, Sorelson phones Tom to say that he has come to Ocean City for a convention. Tom then rescues Sheila, who is almost run over by a car, and explains that Wires is trying to kill her and frame her for Edwards' murder. Suddenly getting an idea, Tom races off to Ferrara's and uses a blow torch to retrieve the loot from Jarvis' car. When he returns to his apartment, however, he is knocked out and the money is taken. The next day, Blake accuses Tom of killing Wires and Haynes, who were found dead at Ferrara's. Sheila arrives and tells Blake that Tom spent the night with her, and after Blake departs, Tom agrees to go away with Sheila. Before they leave, they run into Sorelson, and Tom gets him to admit that he was Jarvis' accomplice and that he kept half of the money. Blake arrests Sorelson, and Tom then leaves with Sheila. As they are driving off, however, Tom induces Sheila to admit that she was in league with Jarvis and killed Wires and Haynes, then stole the money from him. The police are listening to Sheila's confession over a radio transmitter that has been rigged in the car by Tom, and arrive as Sheila is about to kill Tom. Sheila is arrested, and Tom tells the ever-patient Bonnie, who was hiding in the trunk, to drive the car back to town, where he will meet her for a date.