A junior Cabinet Minister commissions Holmes to investigate alleged anti-competitive practices in the tobacco industry. Holmes already has a major Government commission on his hands and offers Watson’s investigative services instead.
Watson travels to the Aachen opera festival to observe the CEO of one of the companies before Holmes appears and tells Watson of an investigation of his own.
The story ends with an operatic flourish although at the end Holmes and Watson are unclear as to the cause and effects of the events that follow their investigation. The Minister, on the other hand, seems happy enough with the outcome.