Cha Cha is giving dancing lessons to an elderly gentleman in the Boom Boom Room. A young man watches her with interest, and after she finishes follows her to her dressing room to ask for lessons. "Carlos may teach you
a thing," he boasts. When she refuses and orders him to leave, he begins to dance with her. Dave Thorne happens by Cha Cha's dressing room and stops the man. Carlos starts to leave, then turns and lunges at Dave with a knife. Dave successfully defends himself against the attacker. He discovers that the man works for a man named Correro. "He's a bad man!" Cha Cha says.
Correro is an exiled dictator who has taken up residency in Miami. Dave returns the unconscious Carlos to Correro's custody, along with the knife. Correro offers to pay Dave for his trouble, but Dave refuses. As Dave is preparing to leave, Correro's son runs into the study, crying. After the boy leaves, Correro offers Dave $1,000 for an afternoon's work: arranging a birthday party for his son. His son, he explains, is lonely because of the dictator's life in exile. Further, he feels Dave, as a private detective, can watch for those who might show up to do harm to the boy or his father. Dave agrees to take the job.
Cha Cha finds the perfect entertainment for the party: Pepe the clown. He receives rave reviews at the houseboat. However, when his wife hears that it is Correro he is performing for, she begs him to not go. "I must," he replies.
The party seems to go without a hitch, with Pepe performing to the children's delight. However, during pin the tail on the donkey, Dave hears the maid scream from inside the house. He runs in, to find Correro lying dead.
When Snedigar arrives and conducts an investigation, he discovers the only person missing from the grounds is Pepe. The security guard at the gate confirms that only Pepe left between the time the party started and Correro was murdered. After the guests are dismissed, Snedigar tells Dave that Correro was not only hated for his dictatorial practices in his former country, he also stole a good deal of money before he went into exile.
Dave, as a lawyer, goes to see Pepe in jail, who is booked for murder. Pepe says he did not
perform for the children; rather, someone came to his apartment and knocked him out before he could leave. When he came to, he was bound and gagged. The only evidence he has to back up his story is a knot on his head. Dave believes him, but convincing Snedigar is another matter.
Dave notices that one of the pictures on the hotel lobby card advertising Pepe's performance is missing. He asks Pepe's wife if someone could copy Pepe's make-up off the picture, or his costume. She agrees about the make-up, but says that his costume was his trademark, and it could not have been duplicated. Furthermore, his spare costume was still at home, omitting the possibility that someone could have stolen it. The tailor still has the pattern as well, and states that it has been "over a year" since he last made a costume for the clown. Dave, however, notices a piece of cloth on the floor of the tailor's shop, a fragment of the same cloth color and pattern used in Pepe's outfit. He picks it up but says nothing in the store.
Outside, however, he confronts a worker in the shop and shows him the cloth he discovered on the floor. Dave plays to the man's love of his grandchildren and their love for Pepe to get information: the shop store owner was lying, there was
a "rush order" Pepe costume made the night before the party and Correro's murder.
Dave runs into Snedigar, who's making arrangements for a fishing trip, and informs him that a third
Pepe the Clown costume is in existence, but only two
are at Pepe's residence. Snedigar discounts the evidence, then says he has discovered the motive Dave has been searching for: Pepe was married once before, and his first wife left him -- for Correro. Furthermore, the boy at Correro's residence was not Correro's, he is Pepe's son.
Dave tracks down the delivery company driver and gets a description of the person who received the Pepe costume, which was delivered to the lobby of the Fontainebleau Hotel. The description sounds familiar to Dave, so he goes to Correro's estate. One of Correro's men tells Dave that Carlos, the man who had tried to force Cha Cha into giving him a dancing lesson, was dismissed the day of that incident and boarded a boat back to South America. "No, I don't think so," Dave replies. "He was at that party, dressed as a clown."
Ken confirms Dave's hunch: Carlos did book passage on a ship to sail back to South America, but he never boarded the ship. Dave launches a plan, based on the information Snedigar gave about Correro's theft of his country's money: he, Ken, Cha Cha, and Mousie will search through parts of town, looking to transfer dollars to pesetas, hoping to find Carlos selling. Dave gets a lead, but he is knocked out while waiting for the contact.
Ken tracks down Dave's female lead who made the contact, but she claims to know nothing. Cha Cha, meanwhile, receives a telephone call during rehearsals, asking her to meet someone so she can buy pesetas. She tells Dave and Ken the information, but gives them the wrong address. Upset, she spots Carlos and follows him on her own. She phones the SurfSide office and gives them the correct address before she is grabbed. When Dave and Ken arrive at the motel, they find Carlos -- dead, hung in a motel room. Pepe's costume is in the motel room, as well, along with a "suicide note" confessing to Correro's murder.
Dave returns to Correro's estate, where he confronts Correro's one-time assistant with the information. Cha Cha is being held on the grounds and sees Dave. She tries to contact him; however, she cannot because the sole window in the room is too high for her to reach. She manages to balance herself on a chair perched on a bed just in time to see someone aiming a gun at Dave. She screams, enabling Dave to move out of the way. Instead, the bullet hits Correro's former assistant. Dave fights off other henchmen, then frees Cha Cha.
Cha Cha is back at work, giving dancing lessons -- this time, to Lt. Snedigar. Also present in the Boom Boom Room are Pepe, who is free and reunited with his son. Share this article with your friends