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Detective Murdoch investigates the murder of a prostitute, Cora Devereaux, in a posh bordello. The girl was garroted and had only been working there for about six months. She was popular with the establishment's clientèle and according to the house's madame, Ettie Weston, she had to that evening remove one particularly obsessed customer, Arthur Webster, a well-known artist. The autopsy reveals that the dead woman had been drinking absinthe and shows no defensive wounds but did have old scarring from possibly having been whipped. In addition to the artist, suspicion falls on a prominent judge who eventually admits he awoke in the dead woman's room and found her dead, but remembers nothing else. The solution to the murder is nearby, however.