A murder in the past comes back to haunt a socially prominent Australian family.
Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, is the bane of his conservative brother Wilfred’s existence in the 1930s. During extensive renovations to the garden at Wilfred’s country estate, a lake is drained, revealing the gun that killed their father 13 years before. Even as the police, encouraged by an anonymous tip, suspect Rowly, Lucy Bennett, encouraged by Wilfred’s wife, decides that she’s in love with him. He's not interested, so he alienates her father by showing off his nude paintings, mostly of his housemate, Edna Higgins, an independent woman he loves but has little hope of persuading to marry him. Lucy soon finds another Sinclair to love: Rowly’s cousin Arthur, a stuffy solicitor who, cut out of his father’s will, depends on Wilfred’s good graces for his cushy lifestyle. Although he was only 15 when his father died, Rowly hated his father, who often had him badly beaten by his farm manager, Charles Hayden. His housemates all thought his father died of natural causes; the family shipped Rowly off to England right after the funeral; and he never talked about his unhappy youth. Now Wilfred asks Rowly to return to the family home to discuss problems old and new. If it weren’t for the return of Hayden, who insists that Wilfred had a row with his father because he threatened to cut him out of his will, the police might have given up. When Hayden is found beaten to death, Rowly is arrested, and Wilfred pulls every string to get him released until his case is heard. Rowly and his friends must find the real killer in order to rescue the family from scandal and himself from a prison sentence.
A charmingly complex hero (Gentlemen Formerly Dressed, 2018, etc.) whose adventures continue to highlight many worldly problems between the great wars.