"One of the classics of modern crime fiction." — The New York Times
While London dockworkers are struggling to unload a shipment of French wine, one of the heavy casks falls, shatters and reveals its cargo — sawdust, gold coins, and a female corpse. But by the time the police arrive, the barrel has vanished along with its macabre contents. Enter Inspector Burnley of Scotland Yard, who traces the cask to Paris, where he enlists the help of detective M. Lefarge of the Sûreté. Together, they hunt for the identity of the anonymous victim and her devious killer, traversing a maze of clues, alibis, red herrings, and lies. This top-notch procedural, along with Agatha Christie's first novel, marked the start of the golden age of the detective story. Freeman Wills Crofts, one of the "Big Four" mystery writers of the era, provides fascinating insights into early twentieth-century methods of murder investigation as well as atmospheric glimpses of the shipping business in London and Paris in the years after World War I.