Newspaper magnate, Charles Foster Kane is taken from his mother as a boy and made the ward of a rich industrialist. As a result, every well-meaning, tyrannical or self-destructive move he makes for the rest of his life appears in some way to be a reaction to that deeply wounding event.
Set during the period of growing influence of the Indian independence movement in the British Raj, the story begins with the arrival in India of a British woman, Miss Adela Quested, who is joining her fiancé, a city magistrate named Ronny Heaslop. She and Ronny's mother, Mrs. Moore, befriend an Indian doctor, Aziz H. Ahmed.
Pressure from his boss and a skin-cream client produces a talking boil on a British adman's neck.
A notice in a newspaper seeks red-headed men, inviting them to join a league which will pay them well - and Jabez Wilson, a pawnbroker who responds, finds he is hired and paid generously for spending four hours a day copying an encyclopedia in long hand. When the league is suddenly dissolved, Holmes is asked to find out what has been going on, and he quickly suspects crime. Indeed, behind this curious arrangement lurks Holmes's arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty.