TV Series: The Chippendale Racket

SUMMARY:

In a London hotel, Americans Tom and Martha Steele have just purchased a pair of silver Georgian Chippendale candelabra for their twenty-fifth anniversary.Seeing Charlie Chan, whom they had once met in Honolulu, in the lobby, Mr. Steele invites him up to see his purchase.Unfortunately, upon inspection, Chan notes that they are forgeries.

At the antique dealership of a Mr. Winkleman,Steele demands his money back.Winklemen suggests that an expert, Cecil Meadows, should first take a look at the candelabra to give his opinion of the candelabra which were once a part of the collection of Lady Laura Abbott.When Meadows declares the candelabra to be copies, Winkleman finds that Lady Abbott had asked John Carstairs, a silversmith in the employ of Winkleman, to make copies for her before the originals were sold.Unfortunately, Winkleman offers, the wrong pair were given to Mr. Steele.As Carstairs goes to fetch the genuine candelabra, he is shocked to find that they are missing.Mr. Steele gives Winkleman until the next morning to produce the original candelabra.Back at the hotel, Chan calls his old friend, Inspector Duff of Scotland Yard, to see if he can make sure that Winkleman has not exported the true candelabra to America under false pretences.

At Lady Abbott’s manor, Carstairs visits his estranged sister, Laura, for the first time in twenty years.He tells Lady Abbott that he has turned his life around and is no longer an alcoholic and that he now works for Winkleman, making exact copies of fine silver pieces from his sister’s collection.He also informs her of his knowledge that she and Winkleman are working together on a forgery scheme.Laura tells her brother to leave, adding that no one will believe her alcoholic brother’s story.Winkleman, who was upstairs listening, is told by Lady Abbott that she wants to hear his side of the story.Barry Chan, arriving at the manor just as Carstairs left through a rear entrance, sneaks into the manor house and listens in on the conversation between Winkleman and lady Abbott as they discuss the details of their unraveling fraud scheme.As Lady Abbott tells Winkleman that whatever happens to him she will be in the clear, Winckleman vows to reveal her role in the affair should it become necessary.As Winkleman leaves the house, Barry is clubbed from behind by an unseen assailant.

At Scotland Yard, Charlie Chan meets with Inspector Duff who shares with him that Winkleman has indeed been sending many items from Lady Abbott’s collection to America, a number of which have been found to be fakes.Duff receives a call from Hitchens, Lady Abbott’s butler, who tells him that Lady Abbott has been murdered and that he is holding the killer for the police.When Chan and Duff arrive at the manor, they find that it is Barry who is being held at gunpoint by the butler!As Chan sends his number one son back to their hotel, Barry tells him of the conversation he overheard although he was knocked out before the killing took place.Hitchens tells Chan that he was out on an errand when the murder occurred and that Carstairs as well as Winkleman had paid a visit to Lady Abbott earlier that day.Chan notes that the missing originalcandelabra are not present in the silver collection at the manor.

Chan visits Winkleman, asking him about the missing candelabra and, catches him in the process of burning his ledger which shows his sales of forged antiques.As Winkleman is about to strike Chan, Inspector Duff, who has just arrived, restrains him.Accused of Lady Abbott’s murder, Winkleman insists that he knows nothing of the crime.Next, visiting Carstairs, Chan informs him of his sister’s murder and letting him know that he, too, is a suspect, but that he also believes he knows of the reason for his visit to his sister after so many years.As Duff and Barry arrive at Carstair’s residence, Chan reveals the missing candelabra hidden there.Carstairs explains that he was holding the candelabra in the hope that Lady Abbott would come clean and return them.

CONCLUSION:

Meadows next arrives, having been summoned earlier by Chan in order to verify that the candelabra set in Carstair’s possession are genuine.Quickly declaring them to be real, Chan says that he must call the police laboratory regarding fingerprints found on the murder weapon, a fireplace poker.Telling Meadows that the prints have been matched with his, Meadows, who lets it slip that he had wiped the poker clean, admits that it was he who killed Lady Abbott as she was about to implicate he and Winkleman in the fraud scheme and thus save herself from suspicion.