It was planned as an act of charity: a new piano for the parish hall, an amusing play to finance the gift. The question now under bitter discussion is, who shall play the overture? Though Eleanor Prentice wins, on the night of the performance she cannot play. Miss Campanula steps triumphantly into the breach - a chord was is, a shot rings out and Miss Campanula is dead, shot between the eyes. A case of sinister infatuation for the brilliant Chief Detective-Inspector Alleyn.
The crime was committed on stage at the Unicorn Theatre, when an unloaded gun fired a very real bullet; the victim was Arthur Surbonadier, an actor clawing his way to stardom using blackmail instead of talent; the suspects included two unwilling girlfriends and several relieved blackmail victims. The stage was set for one of Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn's most baffling cases.