Lord Arthur Hawthorne and his wife return to Kembleford when he retires from editorship of his newspaper and holds a garden party to announce his son Gabe would takeover as editor. Hawthorne had expected Father Brown to give him his personal attention and when he refuses finds himself accused of breaking the seal of the confessional and is suspended from his parish; his place taken by Father Featherstone, Hawthorne's London priest. At the garden party Hawthorne is threatened by Stanley Buchanan, a homosexual exposed in Hawthorne's newspaper. When a rifle shot wounds Hawthorne, Inspector Mallory arrests Buchanan, although Hawthorne suspects his wife or son. A second attempt on Hawthorne's life leads to Buchanan's release. Father Brown investigation with Mrs McCarthy's help uncovers Hawthorne's philandering, his wife's unhappiness, his son's unwillingness to take over editorship, and Father Featherstone's thwarted ambitions.