A rich novelist, Stephen Byrne, who lives and works by a river, accidentally kills his attractive maid after she begins screaming when he makes a drunken pass. The writer manipulates his brother, John, who is physically impaired with a limp, to help him dispose of the body. Making use of a sack, which is shared between the two men’s households for loading and transporting firewood, they stuff the maid inside and dump her into the river. Days later, the sack and body float up and past Stephen’s house. He goes onto the water and desperately tries to retrieve it, but fails. The police recover the bundle and, because John’s initials have been stenciled on the sack, it is all traceable to him. An inquest is held and, to Stephen’s great pleasure, a cloud of suspicion hangs over John, who is tortured by his role in the situation and contemplates suicide. He and Stephen’s wife, Marjorie, harbor feelings for each other. Stephen, meanwhile, has used the maid’s disappearance and death as publicity for his books. Looking to reap great financial gain, he begins writing a novel specifically about the crime; in it he implicates himself.