Set in the Melbournian Jewish community in the late 1920s, this novel begins with the death of a young man in a bookshop. The shop-assistant, Miss Sylvia Lee, is accused of murder, but Mr Abrahams, her landlord, is convinced she is innocent. Consequently, he hires the Hon. Phryne Fisher to prove she did not kill him and find the assassin. In order to solve this case, Phryne will learn about the Kabala, the philosophical stone, different views on Zionism and reasons why the Jewish community tends to remain closed in different countries. Appearances are deceitful and this is another of the topics explored in this novel.