This fourth novel of Boothby's Dr. Nikola series reveals that Nikola has discovered all of the facts necessary to extend a human being's life. He has studied science and magic secrets of Tibetan monks. He explains:
"It has been a long and tedious search, but such labour only makes success the sweeter. The machinery is now prepared; all that remains is to fit the various parts together. In six months' time, if all goes well, I will have a man walking upon this earth who, under certain conditions, shall live a thousand years."
To assist him, he hires a destitute young physician, who explains his predicament:
"As ill luck would have it, however, I had got into the wrong set, and before I had been two years in the hospital was over head and ears in such a quagmire of debt and difficulties that it looked as if nothing but an absolute miracle co-uld serve to extricate me."
That miracle seems to have come to him in the person of Dr. Nikola.
The nefarious and wealthy Nikola has purchased a remote castle in the north of England, where the seclusion will allow him and his new assistant and Nikola's deaf-mute malformed Chinese servant to conduct his grand experiment on a human subject.
Guy Newell Boothby was an Australian novelist and writer, born in Adelaide, son of Thomas Wilde Boothby, who for a time was a member of the South Australian Legislative Assembly.
Guy Boothby's grandfather was Benjamin Boothby (1803-1868), judge of the supreme court of South Australia from 1853 to 1867. When Boothby was six, he traveled to England with his mother.
Around 1890, he took the position of private secretary to the mayor of Adelaide, Australia, but was not content with the work due to little opportunity for advancement. He turned to his writing talents, writing librettos for 2 comic operas and stories about Australian life. Boothby moved back to the United Kingdom in 1894.
He wrote over 50 books in the course of a decade, before dying of pneumonia in Bournemouth. Some of Boothby's earlier works were non-fiction, but later he turned to writing novels. He was once well known for his series of five novels about Doctor Nikola, an occultist anti-hero seeking immortality and world domination.