The Chinese detective and his #2 son go to Reno to help a divorcing woman accused of murder in a complicated case as the victim had many enemies.
Mary Whitman (Pauline Moore) arrives in Reno to get a divorce and is greeted by Vivian Wells (Phyllis Brooks). Jeanne Bentley (Louise Henry) tells Dr. Ainsley (Ricardo Cortez) that she is going to marry Mary's husband Curtis Whitman, and she splashes her drink on Wally Burke (Robert Lowery). A servant finds Jeanne dead with Mary standing next to her. Curtis Whitman (Kane Richmond) asks Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) to help. At USC Jimmy Chan (Victor Sen Yung) decides to go to Reno and picks up two men, who throw him out of the car. Charlie with Curtis is welcomed by police chief King (Charles D. Brown) and sheriff Tombstone Fletcher (Slim Summerville). Charlie sees Jimmy in a line-up. Mary tells Chan that she heard a scream and found Jeanne dead. Chan learns that she was stabbed, but no knife was found. Fletcher is persuaded to let Mary out. Chan goes to the scene with Jimmy, Mrs. Russell (Kay Linaker), and Vivian. A pass-key is missing, and they find Dr. Ainsley in the room. He says that Jeanne won money. Fletcher brings in Burke for trying to leave. The Chans lodge in Jeanne's room. Chan finds pages missing from Jeanne's scrapbook.
At the bar Chan pours drinks and says scissors killed Jeanne. Dr. Ainsley is suspected, but he accuses Burke, who starts a fight. Ainsley knocks out Burke and carries him to his room. Jimmy calls Chan that Burke's family cabled him money. Jimmy tackles Jeanne's servant Choy Wong (Iris Wong) coming in for her things. Ainsley says that scissors are missing from Burke's room. Chan finds Jeanne's muddy boots and figures out she went to an old mine. Chan is taken to the ghost town by a scared taxi driver (Eddie Collins), followed by Fletcher. George Bentley scuffles with Chan, who is grabbed by Fletcher as Bentley escapes.
Jimmy says that Burke tried to leave with the scissors that Jimmy planted in everyone's room except Mary's, where the murder weapon is found by Curtis. Chan learns that nitric acid was spilled and asks Dr. Ainsley about his acid. Jimmy and Choy search for gauze. King tells Chan that Jeanne wrote two checks to Ainsley for $1500. Jimmy says that Mrs. Russell was strangled, and Chan stops Ainsley from giving her a shot of adrenalin. Jimmy finds matching gauze in Mrs. Russell's room. Chan has the suspects gather. Mrs. Russell admits she spilled acid but says she left Jeanne alive. Chan shows the burn on Vivian's arm and accuses her. Vivian claims she was defending herself. Chan accuses Ainsley of trying to poison Mrs. Russell for taking evidence of his murder of her husband.
This tight mystery with comic relief offers escape entertainment
with a clever detective, who is a model of good manners.