Dr. Hugo Schaedel, an unofficial ambassador of the Swiss Republic and also the uncle of a University of California student, is murdered in the Berkeley Hills. Professor Ashwin, with the help of Martin Lamb, another student, evaluates the lives and loves of a group of students living in International House to discover the mystery behind the murders. Each murder is accompanied by the symbol of a crossed italic seven mounted on three steps.
The Case of the Seven of Calvary came unheralded into our office. We pass it along just as simply to innumerable readers who, we believe, are going to find it as brilliant and baffling as we did.
Some of the ingredients are:
1. A cast of characters in which the author has marked those who are not guilty.
2. A chapter-before-the-last in which the author states the essential clues, and gives the actual page numbers on which they appear.
3. The symbol of the Seven of Calvary, left at the scene of each murder, that leads to a dead end every time.
4. A scholar who solves the murders without leaving the quiet of his library.
The first death takes place on the campus of a large American university. There is, seemingly, no motive for it. There is no clue of any kind except the rough drawing of The Seven of Calvary left near the body.
And from this very lack of motive, this apparently patternless murder, Dr. Ashwin gets the first intimation of the pieces of the puzzle — an intimation that crystallizes with the second murder into a perfect whole.