Homicide detail. A man, woman, and parrot are found dead in a rooming house fire.
Responding to the crime, Joe learns that evidence points to the victims being dead before the fire was set. Working with the fire department, Joe and Ben investigate the crime scene. Definite artifacts of arson are found, and by someone who knew something about how to do it. Even the parrot in the room had its neck wrung before the fire was set. The irony of it all… this is fire prevention week.
Witnesses are questioned, a timeline established, and forensics turn up fingerprints. Was it a burglary that went wrong, and fire was used to cover it up? A slip of the lip, a turn of a phrase, and Joe Friday thinks he may have his man.
Time to gather hard evidence, and the questioning focuses on the handyman in the local shop. Putting an edge on it, Joe gets his answer without much trouble. Whether Marshman confesses or not, forensics soon floods Joe with fingerprint and other damaging evidence. His brutal story is soon told as stenographers get it written down.