Elderly spinster Emily Arundell knows she did not trip on her dog Bob's ball, threatened by charming thief nephew Charles, shows him her new will benefitting her twittery foolish companion Miss Minnie Lawson, and writes to Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, vague, twittery, heavy triple underlining "private painful confidential nature". Her plea reaches London destination after her death, too late. Captain Hastings drives Poirot under pretenses to interview her relatives and Market Basing residents.
Fashionable Theresa has spent her funds on fast living. Poor imitator Bella lost hers to bad investments by her Greek husband Dr Tanios, will give anything for her children to have best English education. In a seance the night before Emily's final liver failure, Minnie and the spiritualist Misses Tripps sisters observed a phospherescent trail from her mouth and aura around her head. Too many motives and opportunities for Poirot's little grey cells? Never.