Called in to investigate an apparently minor crime (the theft of a file of leases from a local estate agent), the Brighton CID follow a slender clue to a lonely furnished house on the Saltdean cliffs where the severed body of a girl is found in a trunk.
The state of the corpse makes identification impossible, and there is no evidence as to the cause of death or the motive of the killer – and the man who rented the house has apparently vanished into thin air.
But the old-school copper in charge of the investigation – Detective Inspector Fred Fellows (played by Jack Warner, whose long service as Dixon of Dock Green earned him nationwide popularity) – doesn’t believe in the existence of an unsolvable crime.
Fellows’ young nephew and colleague, Detective Sergeant Jim Wilks (Ronald Lewis), firmly believes in the new scientific approach to criminal investigation. Together – and through a gradual process of unremitting police procedure never before shown so fully on the big screen – the pair put together the pieces of the jigsaw.
The few rather unhelpful witnesses include a grocery roundsman (amusingly played by Norman Chappell) who is thrilled to be involved in the whole unsavoury business.
The producer, director and scriptwriter, Val Guest (whose previous film was the triumph The Day The Earth Caught Fire) based the film on the book Sleep Long, My Love (1959) by American author Hillary Waugh, transposing the story from Connecticut in the USA to the south coast of England.
The film was made with the full cooperation of the County Borough of Brighton Police and the East Sussex Constabulary.
Det. Insp. Fred Fellows
Det. Sgt. Jim Wilks
John Le Mesurier