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Private detective Bill Crane and his assistant, Doc Williams, are invited to the Essex mansion by John Essex to investigate a rash of threatening notes he has received. Among the other guests are Paul Gomez, a fortune hunter after John's sister Linda, aspiring actress, Dawn Day, Carla Rodriguez, and Tony Henderson, a polo player engaged to Linda. John owes money to gambler Steve Felson, and his uncle, Major Barclay, refuses to advance him the money to pay off his debts. When Felson is murdered and Linda is kidnapped, Carla suggests that Gomez might have committed the crimes. Gomez, who is trying to start a revolution in his homeland, accuses Carla of having arranged his brother's death. After Dawn learns that she has been promised a screen test for the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind , Carla, having discovered that someone has been going through her room, asks Crane for protection. Before she can tell him why she needs it, however, she is killed. When John decides to pay the ransom for his kidnapped sister, Crane and Doc hide out to see who picks up the money. They do not see anyone, but later, they find Linda and release her. Crane reveals that Barclay was cashiered from the army for cowardice in action, and Higgs, the butler, blackmailed him for his job. John and Linda faked the kidnapping attempt in order to get the money from Barclay that John owed to Felson. John killed Felson and Carla, who was Felson's secret boss.