Milo March is on a new case for Intercontinental Insurance, and it’s a real puzzler this time. Actually, Milo was just settling into a hedonistic vacation in Los Angeles when Intercontinental called him from New York and convinced him, with the promise of a large bonus, to try to solve a series of jewel robberies in Beverly Hills. Since Intercontinental carries the bulk of the policies on the jewels, they are desperate for Milo to get the loot back—and to see the thieves put away, as a cautionary lesson to other would-be lawbreakers.
The police have identified their prime suspect: Johnny Rinaldi, a gangster with a cross-country criminal record. But just as Milo takes on the case, the cops are busy arresting Johnny’s beautiful girlfriend, Lita, for the murder—she’s been found standing over his body with a revolver in her hand. Yet Milo won’t believe Lita did it. He had just been on a date with her the same night!
He also doesn’t believe Renaldi is the chief culprit. The thefts must have been committed by a gang of seven or eight people, and Johnny didn’t seem smart enough to be the mastermind. In each case a home was broken into at the exact time the owners had taken their gems out of a bank vault. Somebody was tipping off the thieves. Milo has a good idea of who is involved—for example, the hoods who keep warning him to stay off the case, constantly tailing him, and threatening him with fists and guns. But one problem is how to pin it on them, and the other is: where the hell is the large amount of stolen jewelry, especially the three hundred loose diamonds hidden in a place only known to the dead man?
The question is a little like the old gag about looking for a lost dog: “Where would you go if you were a dog?” Milo tries to guess where Renaldi might have hidden the jewelry. There had to be a lot of it, so he couldn’t just dump it in a dresser drawer. And why hadn’t any of it turned up on the market? Surely he wasn’t saving the diamonds to trickle through his fingers, or to run barefoot through a collection of costly baubles. The answer is just on the tip of Milo’s mind, and he’s got to access his intuition or else several millions swill have to be paid out—and Lita could go to the gas chamber.