The death of a foreman at a shoe factory looks like a hideous industrial accident. The body of Polish migrant Giulio Mosca is found mangled in a press, with his hand amputated. It's the fourth accident in nine months. Police Surgeon, Dr Lucien Blake, is furious the factory has such a lack of safety measures and calls for its immediate closure.
The owner, local businessman Patrick Tyneman, admits there was no safety guard on the press despite Blake's previous two reports calling for it to be added. Things get physical and Chief Superintendant Matthew Lawson has to intervene. Dr Blake leaks a story about the industrial accident to a reporter, hoping the pressure will force Tyneman to improve safety.
Meanwhile, Blake's housekeeper, Jean Beazley, auditions for the town's play even though she knows the lead will go to the usual actress. She rehearses and eventually succeeds in securing a part in The Importance of Being Ernest.
The deeper Dr Blake digs into the foreman's death, the more suspicious he becomes about the veil of silence between the migrants at the shoe factory. What exactly are they hiding?