This novel feels as though it may have started out as a light comedy play
script, with all characters on stage for the finale of the last act. A
privately owned Worcestershire bank, insolvent through bad management, is
now inherited by Mike Bond, Cambridge boxing blue, once third in the Grand
National etc. The pretty nurse-companion of Mike's aunt, who lives with him
and has broken her leg, is daughter of an impecunious country squire and
she is in love with Mike. The butler says his father is ill and a temp
takes his job. This is Horace Appleby, head of the Appleby Gang, late of
Chicago, now active in England, robbing country houses. Appleby, who lives
in Valley Fields, sharing house with Ferdy the
Fly (porch-climber) as his bedmaker/cook, likes to get into country houses
first as a butler and then plan the burglary in comfort. Appleby was one of
the Duplessis mob on the Riviera. He plans to marry Ada Cootes, Mike Bond's
secretary, and retire to the south of France to a house where he has done a
burglary job. This time he has bribed the Mallow Hall butler to say his
father is ill and leave the post vacant.
Appleby's safe-opening expert, Llewellyn ('Basher') Evans, colossal in
size, soft in heart, gets 'religion' at a revivalist meeting (Ukridge's
Battling Billson did the same thing) and opts out of the burglary at a
critical moment. Charlie Yost, gunman from Chicago, is angry because
Appleby has docked his wages for carrying a gun against orders.
Mike's bank is saved when its debts are paid by investments in it by three rich ex-burglars.
Happy endings for all.
Source: Richard Usborne. Plum Sauce. A P G Wodehouse Companion.