Madame Blanche is giving a seance for an elderly woman named Julia Rainbird. Julia is convinced that the psychic has called up the spirit of her sister Harriet, and driven by guilt over her dead sister, Julia vows to find Harriet's long-lost son. Harriet's son was born out of wedlock and Julia forced Harriet to give him up in order to protect the family's honor. Old and without children of her own, Julia now wants to find her nephew since he is her only surviving relative and thus the heir to her fortune. The trouble is, she has no idea how to find him so she offers Madame Blanche $10,000 to use her psychic powers to find her missing heir.
Blanche leaves in a taxi and she and her partner-in-fraud George discuss the events of the evening. George is an actor and researcher who feeds Blanche all the relevant information she needs to hook her clients. Up to now, they've been mostly small-time crooks but this job will set them up nicely. The only problem, they need to find Julia Rainbird's lost nephew and they have very little to go on.
George nearly runs into a mysterious woman dressed all in black as she is crossing the street. The woman approaches a guard post and hands the guard
Fran arranging the dropoff
a note, after which he escorts her inside. She is holding Victor Constantine hostage and she's there to broker his release in exchange for a very large diamond. As part of the deal, a helicopter has been provided and she flies off with the pilot to the exchange point. She meets her partner along with the sleeping Victor Constantine. As her partner examines the diamond, the helicopter pilot runs into the woods but the two kidnappers escape.
The police question Victor Constantine about his imprisonment; he is not the first victim of these kidnappers. Constantine never got a good look at them but he does know that it was a man and a woman. Beyond that, he really doesn't know that much about them as he was held in a soundproof room and they never spoke except electronically.
Arthur checks the quality
Meanwhile, George returns home to find Blanche holding a seance with another wealthy elderly woman. George has a lead on Julia Rainbird's heir and needs Blanche's car but she doesn't like being interrupted. George goes to interview the daughter of the Rainbird's old chauffeur. She remembers a family friend that her father used to shoot pool with and how they never were able to have children of their own. The eventually adopted a son under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Shortly before her father died, they were both killed in a fire and she suspects that their son is also dead. George finds the graves in a somewhat dilapidated cemetery and he notices that though they all died in 1950, the grave of the son, Edward Shoebridge, is marked with a new headstone while his parent's grave is marked with an old stone.
George goes to see the headstone maker but he only has records for making a stone for Mr. and Mrs. Shoebridge. The headstone maker remembers making Eddie Shoebridge's stone in 1965 and also remembers that there was speculation that Eddie set the fire that killed his parents and then faked his own death. His body was never found and it was simply assumed that he had died in the same fire. The headstone was paid for in cash by a mysterious
Family Plot Dir. Cameo
benefactor, a young man in his late 20's who picked the stone up himself in a tow truck.
George then goes to the county clerk and finds that there is no death certificate for Eddie Shoebridge but there was an application for a death certificate, which was denied for lack of proof. The application was placed by Joseph Maloney, who runs a local service station. George confronts Maloney but he claims that he doesn't know Eddie Shoebridge and refuses to talk about the headstone or the death certificate. As George drives away, Joe takes down his license plate number.
Joe goes to see the kidnapper, Arthur Adamson aka Eddie Shoebridge. Arthur is a jewelry store owner and Joe has been blackmailing him off and on over the years, not just for Joe's participation in faking the death but
Joe Maloney vowing to take care of a few problems
also in killing the Shoebridges. Joe has traced the license plate to Blanche and vows to find her and George and kill them both before they can do any more digging. However, Arthur prefers to investigate the whole thing himself before allowing any bloodshed. Two police arrive to ask if Arthur has seen any unusual movement in the gem trade but he puts them off. He and his fellow kidnapper Fran go to Blanche's house where they witness an argument between she and George. Based on what they hear, Arthur is convinced that they aren't on to them but Fran is concerned that George and Blanche are after them for the reward money.
Blanche holds another seance with Julia Rainbird and during the seance Blanche brings up the chauffeur and the fire that killed the Shoebridges. The mention of the chauffeur jogs Julia's memory who remembers a letter from him just before he died. He told her in the letter that the parson who baptized the baby had promised to keep track of him throughout his life. The next day, George goes to see Bishop Wood at St. Anselm's Cathedral. During the service, Fran and Arthur intercept Bishop Wood, drug him, and carry him out of the church. During the kidnapping Fran and Arthur spot George and Arthur decides to turn Joe Maloney loose on George and Blanche.
Chased by Maloney
Joe arranges a meeting with Blanche and George at a cafe in the hills. Maloney arrives and sabotages their car while they're inside having a few beers. They decide that he's a no-show so they start to drive back home. As they drive, their brake fluid leaks out, forcing George to work hard to avoid a crash on the twisty mountain road. He eventually brings the car to a stop and they meet Maloney as they're walking up the road. They refuse his offer of a ride and he then tries to run them down but in the attempt he's forced off the road and crashes into the valley below. With Maloney dead, Arthur insists that he and Fran will have to take care of George and Blanche themselves but Fran initially refuses.
George confronts Maloney's widow at the funeral and, after threatening to go to the police, she tells him that Eddie Shoebridge is now Arthur Adamson.
This is all your fault!
George has to work that evening so he can't follow up the lead right away, so Blanche decides to look for him herself. Going through the phone book, she eventually finds the right Adamson and goes to his house after stopping off to give George the message. As she is driving over, Arthur and Fran are preparing to take Bishop Wood to the drop-off point. Blanche arrives just as they've knocked out the Bishop but they pretend to not be home. She encounters them just as they're about to drive away and she tells Arthur why she's been looking for him. Unfortunately for her, she sees the Bishop in their car and immediately surmises that they're the kidnappers.