Over a long career in the courts Justice Horace Ireton has a garnered a reputation for merciless rulings and his dedication to meting out strict, impartial justice. Taking a break from his duty after a session of assizes, Ireton retreats to his seaside bungalow in Devon and turns his attention to family, and specifically in attempting to bribe his daughter's lover Morrell to leave her alone so that she may instead marry the respectable clerk, Fred Barlow. It seems something about the deal with Morrell must have gone amiss, however, when the police are called to the Justice's residence to find Morrell shot dead and the judge still holding a pistol. But would the lawman be so bold to commit a murder like this? With a number of strange items making up the physical evidence Dr Gideon Fell, himself an old friend of Ireton's, is summoned to help with the deceptively simple - yet complex - investigation.