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Gangster Frank Hoefle returns to New York from South America where he has gone after killing Tom Delaney. He intends to take over control of the town's gambling, despite the fact that special prosecutor Paul Zarinka has a deposition sworn out by Delaney which is evidence that Hoefle had a motive for the killing. Hoefle has sent Pinky, one of his men, to buy back the deposition, but when he returns, the deposition is missing and in its place, Pinky finds a note demanding a huge ransom. Hoefle's men hire detectives Spud Savage and Duncan MacLain of the Barton Detective Agency to deliver the money. Spud carries the money, followed by Dunc, who witnesses a pickpocket remove the key to the locker where Spud is to leave the ransom. Dunc recognizes the pickpocket as Eddie Miller and follows him to a hotel where he finds two other detectives, Trilby and Shane. Dunc gets to Eddie just after he has sent the key up to one of the rooms in a dumbwaiter. Hoping to discover who sent Eddie, Dunc rides the dumbwaiter to Amy Arden's room. While he is there, Zarinka rings the bell. Before he can retrieve the key, however, Dunc is hit on the head. When he comes to, the police have found Eddie's body in the dumbwaiter. When the police check Dunc's alibi, Zarinka denies that he was ever in the apartment, and Barton denies that Dunc is working for him. Later Dunc learns that District Attorney Meredith suspects Zarinka, and Barton wants him to investigate secretly. Dunc stakes out the locker and sees a woman remove the money from it, but when he tries to follow her, he loses her trail. When he learns that Trilby and Shane were following a wife for a suspicious husband, he suspects that she may be the woman who took the money. Through a ruse, he discovers that she is Gladys Hewitt, the wife of city engineer Howard Hewitt. Gladys has been having an affair with Zarinka, but when she learns he is finished with her, she shoots him as he drives away. The car crashes with a hugh explosion and Zarinka is killed, but Dunc learns from the coroner that Zarinka did not die from a gunshot wound. Various clues, including Zarkinka's dying words, lead Dunc to suspect that the answer to the mystery lies in an old subway no longer in use. Dodging trains, Dunc finds the money and the evidence needed to convict Hoefle. Al Springer, the district attorney's assistant, is revealed to be the killer. He was able to follow Spud and Dunc's movements because he had tapped the district attorney's phone. Hoefle bribed Springer to steal the evidence against him, and Amy, who used to work for Hoefle and who owed Zarinka a favor, enabled him to steal it from Springer. Springer killed Eddie for the keys, not knowing Zarinka already had them. He then killed Zarinka with a grenade to keep the evidence from reaching the grand jury.