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Amateur detective Miss Marple, the only member of a jury to vote "not guilty" in a murder trial, decides to find the real culprit on her own when a mistrial is declared. Along with her companion, Mr. Stringer, she searches the home of the victim, a former actress, and is led to a foundering repertory company headed by Driffold Cosgood. Posing as an actress, Miss Marple is accepted into the troupe by Cosgood, who believes she may be able to help the company out of financial straits. Miss Marple receives no help in her investigations from Inspector Craddock, who is convinced of the guilt of the accused, a lodger in the victim's home; but her suspicions gain credibility when one cast member is poisoned and another is gassed with cyanide. Later, almost at the cost of her life, she discovers that the murderer is actor Bill Hanson, whose mother, a former member of the theater company, was hanged for murdering her husband; the victim, it is revealed, had been blackmailing Hanson.