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Financier Peter Pett lives in a New York mansion with his formidable wife, crime novelist Nesta Ford Pett, his step-son, the stout and ill-behaved fourteen-year-old Ogden Ford, and his niece, the strong-willed Ann Chester. Mr Pett sees an article in the New York Sunday Chronicle about Mrs Pett s 21-year-old nephew, James Braithwaite Crocker, a wild young man called Piccadilly Jim who is currently in London but used to work for the Chronicle. Mrs Pett decides the family will go to London to bring Jimmy back and keep him under control in New York. Ann does not like Jimmy, because five years prior, Ann wrote a book of poetry and Jimmy interviewed her about it for the Chronicle, but made a joke of her poems and the interview in his article. Ogden behaves rudely to Mr Pett and Jerry Mitchell, Mr Pett s fitness trainer. Ann suggests to Jerry that they kidnap Ogden and send him to the pet hospital run by Mitchell s friend Smithers, who cures sick dogs with a regimen of a healthy diet and exercise. She believes the same treatment would reform Ogden.