An adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's classic Crime and Punishment, reworked for younger readers.
The setting is St. Petersburg in Czarist Russia, in the days just prior to the Russian Revolution.
Rascalnikov is a child from a poor family. He murders an old lady who is a loan shark and flees with her valuables. Judge Polifili, who has been assigned to the case, immediately suspects Rascalnikov because he had recently submitted an essay in a magazine claiming that "the world is divided into those who are geniuses and those who are not. A genius may commit murder but is not guilty if it is for the good of the world."
At first, Rascalnikov feels invincible and confident that he can elude the law, but the Judge Polifili obstinately persists in his investigation, and gradually Rascalnikov comes to feel cornered. In the meantime, Sonya, a prostitute, frantically tries to persuade Rascalnikov to turn himself in.
All this takes place on the eve of the Russian Revolution.