Poolside, at a resort party, a swimsuited cutie approaches a stuffy older man who shushes her. Charles Lee Horne is about to make a crucial shot in a croquet match. The girl observes the game and asks if they shouldn't be on horses. The man shushes her again, then applauds Horne's perfect shot. The girl asks if the man is sure they shouldn't be on horses. Horne looks at his watch and tells another man to take over for him. He then walks to the bar and places a call to the police. After identifying himself, Horne asks to speak to Burke and is told by Les that Burke is off duty. Horne tells Les he must talk to Burke and that tomorrow, Sunday, will be too late. A flash of light is seen from the mountain nearby and Horne is shot by a sniper. As the crowd mills around, Les is still holding on the other end of the line.
Burke is trying to have a cozy rendezvous with Samatha, but she keeps getting calls asking for advice on running charity affairs. Burke waits patiently as Samantha tells a caller that chicken salad always goes with $5 donations and that they should go with the Shrimp Louis (it costs more but it's deductible). Burke reminds Samantha that charity begins at home. She informs him that she is on 30 charity committees. They continue to discuss the pros and cons of charity as Burke keeps taking the phone off the hook and Samantha keeps putting it back on. The phone rings, but Burke insists he doesn't hear a thing. Samantha promises him that it will be the last call she answers. When she realizes it's Les calling for Burke, she says when will she ever learn.
Horne was head of one of the biggest modeling agencies in the nation, creator of the "Horne Girl". Every prospective model wanted to he a Horne Girl. He hosted the party where he was killed. Tim has discovered a 30.06 rifle casing and reports that a car was heard roaring away immediately after the shooting. All the party guests have alibis, witnessing for each other's location when the shot was fired. Horne had only one living relative, a brother who happens to be in town and Tim has already made an appointment to see him. He and Horne saw little of each other; ask Burke puts it - Don't invite Cain and Abel to the same party.
Tim and Les, when they reach the local radio station, are directed to the booth, where a program is on the air. Horne's brother, Al "The Bomber" Devlin, is a disk jockey who is taking one of a series of dedication requests. Les winces at the music. On the air he is a rocking DJ promoting 3 hours of The Creepers. As soon as the record starts and he's off the air, Devlin comments on how much he hates the music he has to play. But it's either this junk or folk music, which he hates even more. He tells them that any other kind of music "you can't give away". He could give them a 4-hour lecture on Whatever Happened to Music, but he couldn't even do 30 seconds on Charles Lee Horne. The family name was Devlin, but Horne changed his name for a "trademark". Devlin says he and Horne weren't even on the same planet; they didn't see each other from one year to the next. He tells Burke, however, that he couldn't have killed Horne as he wasn't at the party (he wasn't invited). Devlin says he was heard by thousands of people doing his radio broadcast with "The Creepers" for three hours around the time Horne was killed. Devlin says Horne was at the top of his business and Devlin was at the end of the line. He offers Les one of his imported throat lozenges, his "only vice". He uses them to keep the "golden tones" in his voice; but he asks why he bothers, for a bunch of idiots (his audience). Tim asks why he doesn't try TV broadcasts. Devlin says forget it. Now he's only got to listen but doesn't have to like it; on TV he'd have to look like it was the music he loved. His alibi is that he was in the studio all afternoon, broadcasting to thousands of listeners. Devlin pops another lozenge. Devlin tells Tim and Les that since he doesn't know his brother, he doesn't know his enemies. He suggests they check out Claudia Sutton, who actually ran Horne's business and was very close to him. As they leave, Devlin takes a request from someone who wants to hear "Naughty Marietta"; Devlin hangs up on them.
When Burke arrives at her office, Claudia is on an exercise "horse" passing abrupt "yes" or "no" judgments on models' photos being shown to her by a sexy Southern secretary. The secretary "accidentally" bumps into Burke on her way out; Claudia tells the secretary she thinks he looks good too and shoos her out of the office. Claudia says Horne was bright, attractive and didn't have an enemy in the world. She had been with him for years and tells Burke she's sorry she can't be of more help. Burke asks her about romance and she starts to kiss him; he says he was asking about her and Horne. She calls Burke "pretty captain" and says that every time a woman is successful, there will always be rumors that she made it to the top on her back. She and Horne worked well together - period. She had been the top model when Horne first began the studio. She had good ideas for the firm and Horne let her run with them. She convinced society women that it was chic to model and the studio began to go well. As she fixes Burke an ice cream soda, Claudia tells Burke that she makes a lot of money and she earns it. She stops being as antagonistic as she had been. Claudia says there were a lot of women in Horne's life; Burke needs to look any further than Claudia. Take model Felice Knight, for example; Horne had never been involved with any of his models until Felice came along. Claudia's on her way to her newest hobby, ice skating, and, flirting, invites Burke to come along. Burke flirts back, but declines and tells her to "keep your blades dry".
Burke and Tim attend a luncheon/fashion show when a swimsuit model stops at their table and rotely recites information about her outfit. Tim comments that the price seems awfully steep for something to going swimming in and the model is shocked that he would suggest she actually get the outfit wet. Tim goes to call the lab for results on the shell casing. Felice Kinght approaches the table and introduces herself, telling Burke she hasn't much time as she's due across town at a shoot. She gets rather huffy when Burke asks about her relationship with Horne; she says it's none of his business, they were just friends and had no romantic attachments. Her alibi for the time of the shooting is that she was being photographed (at $125 an hour - double overtime) on the other side of town. When Tim returns to the table, Felice appears to recognizes him. When Tim acts puzzled and doesn't seem to know her, Felice becomes very angry; she says she "should have seen it coming" but didn't think they'd "have the nerve". She tells Tim that if that's the way he wants to play it, she knows just what to do; and stalks out. Tim seems totally baffled and Burke teases him. Tim admits that there is something vaguely familiar about Felice.
At the station, the head of Internal Affairs, Frank Metcalf, brings a report for Burke to read. Burke refuses to believe whats written in the report; Tim and Les enter. Metcalf asks Burke and Les to leave so he can have a discussion with Tim alone. Once alone, Metcalf opens the other door and brings Felice into the room. Metcalf tells them both to sit; Tim is confused and Felice still angry. Metcalf shows Tim a report from a year earlier signed by Tim as the officer in charge. Tim vaguely remembers the case - a dead man was reported; it seems two winos fought over a bottle in an alley. One was killed and the other was long gone by the time Tim arrived on the scene. Tim says he remembers a woman had called, saying she could ID the killer; he thinks her name was Lewis or Ledge. Felice turns on Tim and says her name was Lynch at the time and he knows it. Tim finally recognizes her; Felice accuses him of putting on an act. Tim tells Metcalf he had shown her mug shots but she couldn't identify the killer; Felice calls him a liar. Metcalf tells them to both calm down, but Felice accuses him of attempting a whitewash. She says for the fifth time she did recognize someone; Tim replies that if she did, she never said anything. Felice tells Metcalf, she may not have seen the killer, but she recognized Horne's photo in the mug book. She had tried to get into the Horne agency for a year, but obviously she hadn't impressed Horne. Felice says that, in order to be a Horne Girl, a model had to have "something special"; she now knew that if she knew what the charges were against him, that would be "something special" and Horne would definitely be "impressed". Felice had asked Tim for the information, but he had refused. So, she says, she dated him and got very close. Tim finally told her, Felice claims, that Horne had been charged with three counts of extorting money from women. Tim swears she's lying but Felice says she used the information to become a Horne Girl very quickly and she's ready to testify under oath. Metcalf says Felice came to him of her own volition and said she was afraid of being framed for Horne's murder. Burke and Les are brought back into the room; Tim, still denying everything, is suspended from duty and told not to leave his apartment for the duration of the case. Tim storms out of the office angrily. Les is disgusted. After Metcalf and Felice leave, Burke tells Les to dig up everything he can on Horne and Felice's relationship.
At the Seaside Rink, Claudia is discouraged because she can't get the hang of skating. She calls Burke a demon on blades and says everything comes easily to some people. Burke asks her for more information on the Horne-Felice story. Claudia tells Burke Horne never thought Felice was the right type to model, but, suddenly, ten months ago, he had abruptly changed his mind. He never said, and she never asked, why; Claudia tells Burke you just didn't do that with Horne. He pulled a lot of strings and arranged for Felice's first appointments himself. Soon, Felice was "in". Claudia tells Burke that Felice is separated from her husband Gil Lynch. Just then, Burke is swept away from Claudia by a group of skaters; he calls out that he'll be back.
Les still has a bunch of Devlin's lozenges in his pocket and periodically pops one into his mouth. He's checked with the lawyers and bank and found out that Horne won't be missed. Devlin inherits everything but the agency, Claudia gets the entire agency; she and Horne had a fairly standard policy turning the business over to the surviving partner in case of death. Horne was making $3000 cash withdrawals from the bank on the first of every month for the past ten months, like clockwork (probably to pay Felice). Burke wonders if Horne may have tried to call him to finally blow the whistle on the blackmailer, but was shot first, either by the blackmailer or someone hired by that blackmailer. Burke is discouraged because every theory points to Tim as the person in the best position to commit the crime.
Burke is next seen in a health club, getting a massage from Gil Lynch, a dumb-as-dirt good ol' boy. He tells Burke he can't believe his Felice is in trouble, since she's such a sweet gal; he still has feelings for her. Lynch says Felice was a good girl, but he and she were looking for different things. He says he's a plain country boy who didn't like the farm, found a job he likes and is good at, and found people he likes; he knows he never will go any higher but he doesn't care. Felice, on the other hand, always wanted to "reach the ball"; she wanted a lot, kept telling Lynch he was going to be a nothing all his life and should get some spunk. Lynch is amused by all of this; he says he sees her picture in all the magazines, so he knows she got what she wanted and he's glad. He thinks it's better to be peaceful; he asks Burke "what hubby wouldn't be proud?" He also says he didn't know Horne but knew all about him; Lynch says Horne helped Felice and gave her what he couldn't. Besides, he says, he and Felice had called things off in their relationship long before she met Horne. Lynch admits he was alone in the gym when Horne was killed, but he tells Burke he's not a killer - the only thing he ever killed was a 'coon to eat for dinner.
At Burke's home, Les enters, disturbing Henry's preparation of dinner. He tells Burke that Tim isn't answering his phone. He tells Burke he tried every ten minutes for an hour.
Tim, however, has gone to Felice's apartment. He rings her doorbell, rings it again and again. When there's no answer, he realizes the door is slightly ajar. He enters and calls out Felice's name; in the dark, a man suddenly jumps Tim, they fight, smashing things throughout the apartment. Th man clubs Tim over the head with a vase and runs out, leaving him unconscious on the floor.
At the station, things are looking
bad for Tim. Tim tries to apologize to Les; he was going stir crazy and couldn't figure out why Felice was doing all this. He figured that if he could just ask her face to face...he swears it's true. Les says it will all work out, but admits that Felice reported she had returned home to find Tim unconscious and bleeding. The apartment has been ransacked. Felice says she saw no one and refuses to believe in the story of the intruder. Felice has gone straight to Metcalf, cried police harassment, and complained that Tim was the one who trashed her apartment. Burke is currently in the other office standing up for Tim. Les says it doesn't look good. Burke calls and passes along an order - Tim is to go home and stay there. Les tells him not to leave even if the place is on fire.
Burke is furious. Les tells him that the lab has ID'ed usable prints from the assault. They belong to Errol Fuller a "3 for a dollar" shady private eye who had often been in trouble in the past. After the last complaint, Fuller almost lost his license. When Burke confronts Fuller at his apartment, Fuller accuses him of strongarming his way in. Burke pats him down and orders him to come along to the station. As they start to leave, Fuller takes a swing at Burke and they fight. Burke finally subdues him and tells him to explain why someone is trying to "get" Tim...or else. Fuller admits Felice hired him a year ago for the job of finding out what the reasons were for the police record on Horne. He took the job, even though he knew he could never get access to the information. Fuller conned Felice along for a big fee for about a month, until she got wise and fired him. When Horne was shot, Fuller figured out the blackmail scheme and was afraid Felice would tie him in if enough pressure was put on her. Burke doesn't accept the story. Fuller tells him he had given Felice a receipt for his retainer and had only gone to her apartment looking to destroy the receipt (incriminating evidence against him). He says he never intended to fight Tim; Burke takes him downtown. At the station, Fuller continues to tell the exact same story. He demands a lie detector test; Les thinks he's telling the truth. Paraffin tests conclusively show that Fuller hasn't fired any gun recently. Les reasons that if Fuller is telling the truth, it should help Tim's case, since it means Felice tried to hire Fuller after she couldn't get the information from Tim. Just then, a call comes in from Felice. She is slumped, half on the floor of her suite, severely beaten. She calls for help and as Burke listens, she collapses. Burke calls Tim's home; there's no answer.
Felice is found dead in her apartment. There's still no answer at Tim's apartment. Burke is told that Felice was killed by multiple blows to the head, possibly from a gun butt. The hotel desk clerk states that a call came through to Felice in the last hour. The caller identified himself as "Detective Tilson" and said he was going to drop by. The hotel has two entrances, plus a self-service elevator, so anyone could have come in and upstairs unobserved.
Tim comes home to his apartment to find Burke and Les waiting for him. He says he should have seen it coming. Someone had called him a half an hour ago. The man said he knew who killed Horne and told Tim to meet him at a certain parking lot on Twelfth and Concord. Of course it turned out to be an empty lot and Tim has no witnesses to his movements. Burke is furious, but says he thinks the whole thing is a beautiful frame, with a corner coming loose. He tells Tim to stay put. Outside the apartment, Burke admits to Les that he was lying when he suggested there was a flaw in the frame. Back at the station, Burke mulls over the link between the murder, Horne's record and the blackmail scheme. Felice obviously had found out the information that she needed and was almost certainly the blackmailer; but she had to be in the deal with someone else. The other person killed her and had to be the man who called both Tim and the hotel desk clerk. This whole scheme leaves the killer with all the money, Felice dead, and Tim on the hook. Nothing clearly proves Tim's guilt, but there is still the problem of the fact that only a policeman could have gotten Horne's record. Or, maybe the information came from someone who knew Horne very well way back when. Burke asks Les for one of his lozenges and asks - what about an estranged brother?
Back at the radio station, another DJ takes over while Burke interviews Devlin again. Devlin denies knowing Felice, but Burke bluffs him and claims that one of Devlin's throat lozenges was found in her apartment. Devlin swears he didn't kill her. He says his miserable brother is dead and still causing him grief. Devlin says Horne was a total fake, a goodlooking phony with a record; Devlin he knew all about it. The only thing the two brothers had in common was Felice. She dropped by the radio station to see Devlin about a year ago, supposedly because she liked his radio voice. Devlin says he knew what she was up to and they had a "thing". Devlin tells Burke he talks too much when he drinks; he never should drink. After two scotches, he told Felice all about Horne's record. He never admitted it to the police because he didn't want to make waves if it would have involved him. Implication in the whole murder/blackmail scheme would have ruined him, guaranteeing he could never find another job again. Devlin tells Burke that Felice was never really Horne's "girl"; there was only one man for her. After she dumped Devlin, he was jealous and followed her; she went back to the only man in her life, Gil Lynch. Devlin says he would give his career if a woman would "hate" him the way Felice supposedly "hated" Lynch.
At the health club, Lynch is opening lockers and cleaning up. Burke and Les arrive to come down to the station. Lynch doesn't want to go but finally agrees. He goes to a locker to get his jacket; Burke sees him reaching for a rifle inside the locker and jumps him. Lynch slugs Les and runs with Burke in hot pursuit. He throws lockers and benches in Burke's path, but trips. The fight goes into the steam room where Lynch tries to strangle Burke. Burke finally knocks him cold as Les regains consciousness. Lynch insists Burke is making a mistake and says the police can't prove anything. Burke has his gun, however, and is sure the lab will match it to the murder weapon. Lynch is charged with two counts of murder in the first degree. Burke says he's going to call Tim and tell him he can leave the apartment; Les says that it's after midnight and asks wher is he going to go. Burke replies that Tim is 25, he'll think of something.
Burke and Claudia kiss on a date. Burke says he's "hungry" but Claudia says "you men" and reminds him that they're late for the restaurant. She shoos him away and says she has dinner all prepared, so they won't have to go out. Behind a screen, everything is ready, but it's all liquid. - carrot and sauerkraut juice with wheat germ and dehydrated seaweed. Claudia pours Burke a health drink and says it's guaranteed dynamite. He drinks and remarks that it tastes like dynamite. Claudia brings out some liquor, pours it into his glass and says she won't tell if he won't. Burke replies:
NEVER FIGHT THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU - BURKE'S LAW.