Robert Amiss is persuaded by his friend Detective Sergeant Pooley of the CID to take a job as a waiter in ffeatherstonehaughs (pronounced Fanshaws), a gentlemens club in St James. The club secretary has allegedly jumped to his death from the gallery of this imposing building. Against most of the evidence, Pooley believes he was murdered.
Amiss finds himself in a bizarre caricature of a club, run by and for debauched geriatrics, with skeletons rattling in every cupboard. Why are there so few members? How are they financed? Will Amiss keep his job despite the enmity of the ferocious, snuff-covered Colonel Fagg?