India, 1922: Joe Sandilands, Scotland Yard detective, is staying with Governor Sir George Jardine in Simla when there is some unexpected news. Sir George sends Joe off to the Princely State of Ranipur in the company of Edgar Troop, an experienced hunter, at the request of the Maharajah, an old ally of the British. A man-eating tiger is terrorizing the northern villages, and the two men are invited to join a hunting party in the forest. But the quality of the weaponry with which Sir George supplies him raises Joe's suspicions. The rifle will be perfect for the tiger, but why has he also been issued with the small Browning M pistol, designed for use on human targets? The Maharajah is dying and the succession is unclear. His first son has recently been killed in a panther-related incident. Then a second son dies dramatically before Joe's eyes. The third and last remaining son—the favorite successor in the eyes of the British—is only twelve years old. In the luxurious setting of the Maharajah's court with its array of powerful, scheming characters, Joe must track down a clever murderer—all under the mocking and hostile eye of the ruthless Chief of State Police.