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On a rainy night at the Compton Hotel in Gary, Indiana, postal inspector Harry Gruber is murdered by two men, Joe Regas and George Soderquist. Regas and Soderquist then drive Gruber's body to La Porte and prepare to dump it near a railroad switching station. As they are taking the body out of the car, they spot a nun close by, fumbling with an umbrella. Hoping to distract her, Soderquist offers his help, but while he is chatting, she notices Regas struggling to keep the body upright. After Soderquist explains that his "friend" is drunk, the nun walks off, but asks a passing motorcycle officer to check up on the man. Just then, however, a car speeds past, and the officer pursues it. Later, the body is identified by police, and Al Goddard, a no-nonsense postal inspector from Chicago, is assigned to investigate. Al's first task is to track down the nun, and after interviewing various railroad employees, he finds her at a church in Fort Wayne. When Al asks the the soft-spoken nun, Sister Augustine, for help in catching the killers, she at first demurs, but changes her mind when Al reminds her that it is her "job" to help the police. Sister Augustine goes with Al to the downtown police station and picks Soderquist's photo out of a mug book. Aware that Soderquist's last known address is in Gary, Al then persuades Sister Augustine to accompany him there. At St. Michael's church in Gary, where Sister Augustine is staying, Mother Ambrose questions the younger nun about the investigation, and she admits that she is reluctant to help Al because he has "no heart" and "no charity." Despite her feelings, Sister Augustine goes with Al and homicide detective David Goodman to a pool hall frequented by Soderquist and, while hidden, identifies Soderquist as the man in La Porte. Sister Augustine then leaves to hail a cab and is spotted by Regas. Although the nun could not identify him, the nervous Regas calls his boss, Earl Boettiger, and announces that she must be eliminated. Later, after Al and David learn that Soderquist has eluded a police tail, they decide to check out the post office Gruber had been investigating. There, the postmaster informs them that Gruber had been closely watching three truck drivers involved in transferring money shipments at Gary's switching station. Al recognizes one of the drivers, Paul Ferrar, from the pool hall and assumes that Gruber was killed because he knew that Ferrar and Soderquist were planning a heist together. At St. Michael's, meanwhile, Regas spies on Sister Augustine and tries to kill her by causing debris from an overhead construction site to fall as she passes under it. Upon hearing about Regas' attempted murder, the low-key Boettiger, who runs the Hotel Compton, orders him to leave the nun alone, but does agree to get Soderquist out of town. When Soderquist refuses to go to St. Louis, however, Regas blundgeons him to death. Al, meanwhile, worries about Sister Augustine's safety and, against David's advice, decides to infiltrate Ferrar's operation by pretending he is a money-troubled, rogue inspector. At the pool hall, Al reveals to Ferrar what he knows about Gruber and demands that Ferrar pay him $25,000 in exchange for his silence. Eventually, Al manipulates Ferrar and Boettiger into inviting him to participate in the heist, which entails waylaying a one-million-dollar money shipment at the switching station. Later, at the post office, Ferrar eavesdrops as the postmaster informs Al that Soderquist's body has been found at a steel mill canal. Ferrar follows Al to the canal, which is swarming with police, but flees when he is spotted. Although the police fail to catch Ferrar, Al proceeds to the switching station to discuss the heist with Boettiger, Regas and their two cohorts, Gene Gunner and Leo Cronin. During the meeting, Ferrar bursts in, but before he can expose Al, Al surreptitiously threatens him with a gun. Al then forces Ferrar to leave with him, and the next day, describes the heist to the police. After thanking Sister Augustine for her help, Al returns to the gang and learns that one of the rendezvous points has been altered. Only Regas, who does not trust Al, knows the new location, so Al phones the police from the hotel to warn them about the change. As Al is talking, Boettiger's girl friend, Dodie La Verne, walks in and realizes he is speaking to the police. Although Dodie has fallen for Al and does not want to be mixed up in his murder, she refuses to betray Boettiger and takes off to avoid witnessing his downfall. The next day, as the heist is being put in motion, Regas spots Sister Augustine leaving St. Michael's. Still obsessed with silencing her, Regas kidnaps her, neglecting his assignment in the robbery scheme. The heist soon goes awry, and the robbers, including Al, end up with Regas and Sister Augustine at the gang's hideout. When Regas threatens to murder the nun, Al fights and kills him, then is inadvertently revealed as an imposter by Sister Augustine. Al gives himself up to Boettiger in exchange for Sister Augustine's freedom, but after she is released, he jumps Boettiger. The two men fight as the police arrive and arrest Cronin and Gunner, and Al eventually shoots and kills Boettiger. Later, Sister Augustine says a final goodbye to Al, who admits that his life is a little less cold for having met her.