World War II hero Davy Fox has returned to his New England hometown of Wrightsville a changed man. When his wife Linda wakes up to find Davy's hands squeezed around her neck, it takes all of her strength to get away. But Davy is more than shellshocked from the war. He's haunted by events of twelve years before, when his mother was murdered by his father, Bayard, who is serving life in prison and had always insisted that he was not the one who killed his wife.
Linda hopes that if Davy's father could be proved innocent, it might clear the conscience of her young, angry war hero husband, saving her marriage and herself. She suggests to Davy that they seek out Ellery Queen, a New York writer whom she remembers successfully solved a previous Wrightsville mystery.
For Queen, the case is a long shot: with his only witnesses people closely connected to the victim, and Queen's only clue Bayard Fox's insistence of innocence, the clearest path leads back to the man already serving a life sentence. Determined to get to the truth of the matter, Queen returns to the house where the murder took place, a house preserved down to the smallest detail precisely as it had been when the tragedy struck. And here he finds the clues that blast the case wide open.
From his first appearance in print in 1929, Ellery Queen became one of America's most famous and beloved fictional detectives. Over the course of nearly half a century, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, the duo writing team known as Ellery Queen, won the prestigious Edgar Award multiple times, and their contributions to the mystery genre were recognized with a Grand Master Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Mystery Writers of America. Their fair-play mysteries won over fans due to their intricate puzzles that challenged the reader to solve the mystery alongside the brilliant detective. Queen's stories were among the first to dominate the earliest days of radio, film, and television. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, which the writers founded and edited, became the world's most influential and acclaimed crime fiction magazine.