One of the most entertaining of the Toler Chan series as Charlie gets mixed up in murder, magic and a phony psychic. Victor Sen Yung is along as number two son Jimmy. Cesar Romero is fun as a magician.
Charlie and Jimmy are on a plane to San Francisco. Charlie’s mystery writer friend Paul Essex is also there. He just finished his latest book. This one is about the phony psychic racket. Charlie is disturbed by insurance actuary Thomas Gregory (Douglas Dumbrille) who has a nasty attitude. Paul gets a radiogram warning him about Scorpio. The next day Jimmy is looking out the plane window at the World’s Fair at Treasure Island. He asks Paul if he wants to look. He can’t. He’s dead. Gregory steals his briefcase with the manuscript.
Jimmy looks for Gregory and Charlie goes to the police station and visits his old friend Chief Kilvaine. That’s where he meets newspaper reporter Pete Lewis (Douglas Fowley) and magician The Great Rhadini (Cesar Romero). Part of what he does is expose phony psychics etc. They’re looking to expose Dr.Zodiac. Three of his clients committed suicide. Charlie thinks Paul is the fourth.
Charlie, Pete and Rhadini goes to Zodiac’s house. The door is opened and they’re greeted by Zodiac’s servant known as The Turk. He takes them to the seance room. Pete resents him because his girlfriend Eve Cairo. is a client and Zodiac advises her not to marry him. She’s part of Rhadini’s act as a mind reader. Zodiac’s control to the spirit world shows up and then they hear Paul’s voice. Zodiac recognizes Rhadini through his thin disguise, pulls a gun and tells the three to get out.
That night at a party Charlie is enthralled by Eve’s mind reading ability. Rhadini swears she’s the real thing. Charlie meets a troublemaker named Bessie Sibley and Rhandini’s jealous wife Myra. Gregory comes in and thanks Rhadini for inviting him. Rhadini tells Charlie he doesn’t know him. There’s a phone call for Charlie. It’s Jimmy. He’s in Gregory’s hotel room searching for Paul’s briefcase. He sent him a phony invitation to Rhadini’s party.
The party’s over and Charlie, Pete and Rhadini head for Zodiac’s mansion. Charlie wants to make sure no one’s home. The door opens. It’s Jimmy. He snuck in through a window. They go to the seance room and see the foot pedals under Zodiac’s desk that work the special effects. They also find the Zodiac costume that makes him look a lot bigger than he really is. The Turk comes in with a gun. Thanks to Jimmy fooling around with the pedals the lights go out and The Turk escapes.
They try and find him and come across a large safe. Charlie finds the combination. The safe leads to a file room. There are dozens of files that are used for blackmail. Charlie burns them. The next day he asks Pete to put a story in the paper that Rhadini is betting five thousand dollars he can expose Zodiac as a phony. Things get really entertaining as Rhadini puts on a show at his Temple Of Magic.
If you’re looking for an excellent entry in the series then check this one out.