Poirot is summoned to Marsdon by the owner of a country inn there to solve a murder. But the inn-keeper is a would-be thriller writer, and to Poirot's dismay the murder turns out to be fictional. Thankfully, though, there is soon a real (if seemingly supernatural) murder at the big house. Things get even more interesting when a young wife claims that a tree in her garden is haunted by a laughing ghost, and there are also signs of black magic from East Africa. Poirot lays a clever ambush to smoke out the killer,confident that he or she will turn out to be human.