Art dealer Thomas Caine hires Rockford to purchase a particular piece at auction. It is a cormorant, a rare copy of an even rarer original. Thieves attempt to steal the piece from Rockford in the auction house parking lot; in the scuffle the bird falls and breaks open. Rockford knows he’s got problems, so he returns to see Caine and discovers the hotel room empty and the manager certain it was never rented. Why did Caine want the bird so badly and why does he no longer seem to? Is his unwholesome reputation earned, or merely the badmouthing of competitor Evelyn Stoneman? And why are Lloyd’s of London and Scotland Yard both interested?