Poirot is outbid at an auction for an antique mirror by the dislikeable Gervais Chevenix, who requests Poirot's attendance at his country home as he believes he is being defrauded by a business associate, John Lake. Poirot arrives at the Chevenix house with Hastings and meets Chevenix's wife Vanda, an eccentric who believes in reincarnation and predicts a death in the household, his adopted daughter Ruth and her cousin Hugo,a struggling manufacturer of tubular steel furniture, who will inherit Chevenix's money if they marry and Miss Lingard, a secretary helping Chevenix research a book he is writing. Hugo is engaged to Susan and Ruth has already married Lake in secret. As the household are dressing for dinner, the butler sounds the gong to summon them, and then a shot rings out. Vanda's prophecy has come true and her husband has been murdered.