*A retired schoolmaster invites four young people to come to his home after a local dance. When they arrive, they find that the schoolmaster has been murdered.*
*Synopsis:* After attending three consecutive evenings of county dance events, accepting an invitation for drinks at the home of a retired schoolmaster is the last thing Patricia and Martin Hands want to do. Eventually, the sister and brother decide to be neighborly and submit, taking Patricia’s fiancé Gerald Lansley and friend Barbara Carmichael with them. The house that awaits them, however, is less than inviting: an odd man named Salter is playing a *solitary hand of cards* while a strange woman in a dress of foreign fashion appears from the service entrance and remains nearly mute. To the new guests’ surprise, the mysterious woman disappears out of the room again, and moments later a flustered police constable arrives, also acting strangely. It appears that their would-be host, Mr. Yeldham, has been stabbed in his study, knocking against the switch for the *fireplace* as he fell. No murder weapon is found on the scene.
From that moment on, the unlucky *quartet* is fatally linked to the curious events of *Y Bryn house in Trevenant, a quiet village in Wales*. Detective-sergeant Scoresby has his work cut out for him, as there is no shortage of promising leads. Martin Hands, who did not want to visit Yeldham and pointedly refused *cigarettes and drinks* while at the house, appears to be holding a grudge against the victim from an incident that concerned Martin and Patricia’s father during the Great War.
Scoresby finds acrimony between Yeldham and his housemaster replacement, Kinderson, at the school the dead man was forced to retire from. And what was the mystery woman’s connection with Yeldham? Does the fact that she fled the scene point towards her guilt as a murderer?
As DS Scoresby continues to investigate, with questionably competent help from Constable Reeves and the poaching-inclined Sergeant Evans, the clues start to accrue. An open book of legal code was found by the dead man’s chair, hardly a tome for light reading; a boy notices part of a *license plate number from a car parked along a dark lane on the night of the murder*; Gerald Mansley apparently lied about the bus stop he used during a visit to London; and Patricia Hands tells the police that *a spring-loaded knife* used for killing game – and belonging to her brother Martin – has disappeared.
When a second murder occurs, the victim being a suspect-turned-blackmailer who knew too much, Scoresby calls everyone back to Y Bryn to present the facts and argue the case against the killer.