What do you do when you have to order your own execution?
The plot follows Ivan Dragomiloff, who, in a twist of fate, finds himself pitted against the secret assassination agency he founded and because of a rigid condition set in place having to issue a hit on himself. The Assassination Bureau, Ltd., will assassinate evildoers, for example, corrupt police commissioners, legislators, politicians, etc.; but will not act unless convinced that the target truly is worthy of assassination.
The novel was based on a story idea London purchased from author Sinclair Lewis (Elmer Gantry) in early 1910. London wrote 20,000 words of the novel before he gave it up later that same year, saying he could not find a logical way to conclude it. He died in 1916, leaving the book unfinished. The overall concept borrows heavily from G.K. Chesterton's novel The Man Who Was Thursday and has shades of The Four Just Men.
In 1963, mystery writer R.L. Fish completed the novel based on the unfinished manuscript with additional notes by London and an ending outline done by London's widow Charmian shortly before her death in 1955.