The dark story of Bud Corliss, a greedy young man, who longed for all the privileges that money can bring, without expending much effort! He was worshipped and spoiled by his mother since young, and brought up to believe that he was meant for status and wealth. He lied, planned and plotted to court rich women or marry rich heiresses. If he had put that amount of effort into his studies or work, he could have made it on his own.
At the Stoddard University, he met and courted the daughter of the president of Kingship Copper, Inc. Dorothy was a girl who yearned for love and attention, something she longed for so much during her growing years. Her mother had left when she was young, and her father ignored her and her sisters most of the time.
Dorothy got pregnant, but Bud would not want to marry her now, else Dorothy’s father would certainly disinherit her. He tried to get her to abort the child, giving her some pills, which she did not take.
He tricked her into believing that they would marry soon, and lured her to the municipal building when he pushed her off the parapet on the roof. He had already gotten her to write a suicide note, which he posted to her sister, Ellen. He was safe; the police had closed the case, treating it as a suicide.
Ellen was suspicious about Dorothy’s death and traveled to Stoddard University to investigate further about Dorothy’s boyfriend. She met Gordon, one of the suspects on her list, but he was able to convince Ellen of his innocence, as he hardly knew Dorothy. Gordon warned Ellen to be careful in her investigations. However as she was close to finding the truth, she was murdered by the person she trusted most, her boyfriend Bud.
After Ellen’s death, Bud plotted to meet Marion, the remaining sister of Dorothy and Ellen, his one last chance to Kingship’s wealth. He was very meticulous in seeking information about her character, habits and interests, and planned their meetings as if by coincidence. He courted her and managed to win her over. Marion accepted his marriage proposal, and they planned for their wedding. However, Gordon, Ellen’s friend, read about the upcoming marriage and approached Marion’s father with his suspicions. Gordon gathered his evidence of Bud’s deception, and together with Kingship, they confronted Bud, during a trip to one of the family’s copper manufacturing plants. Bud pled his innocence, but could not move them. Realizing that he had reached the end of his dreams, he lost his composure, slipped and fell to his death.
This is a classic mystery, a remarkable suspense novel of its time. The plots were full of shocks and surprises, revealing the twisted mind of an amoral young man, who would stop at nothing—not even murder—to get what he wanted. Levin was a master in twisting the plots so much so that the reader was caught in the story of a heartless killer, trapped in the consequences of his greed and schemes.