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Pete and Myka are using a jade elephant (artifact made by Indian guru Vyasa) to absorb balls of electricity that are rocketing around the library, but when a quadruple hit comes their way, it's too much for the artifact to channel, and the charge rockets onto a nearby manuscript, launching them into the world of the story. The partners look at each other, decked out in filmic black and white, and their only clue about their situation is the title page of the manuscript, written by a noir novelist. Fortunately, Myka Bering is the world's foremost bookworm and has read everything by this author, Anthony Bishop. She tells Pete the genre is "hard-boiled detective", and when a sultry blonde walks into their detective's office, they realize that they're going to have to play the roles to the end of the story if they want to get out.
The woman, Mrs. Rebecca Carson, says her husband disappeared after returning from India with a rare artifact. She shows them a picture of a jade elephant, and says that some thought it had magical powers. Myka and Pete now know they have to bag the artifact that transported into the story, as well. They head to Carson's office, where a squad of palookas attacks them and brings them to the Indigo Club, a lounge owned by Mr. Carson's former employer, Barnabus. Myka uses the era's sexism to get free of her loose ropes and knock the goons cold, whereupon Barnabus offers them a fee to find the elephant, themselves. They return to Carson's office where Myka finds a matchbook from the KristieAnne Hotel – Kristie Anne being Bishop's mother. They arrive there just as someone blasts Carson with electric rays from the elephant and runs down a darkened alley.
Jinks and Claudia don't notice their cohorts' absence because they're searching for an artifact that makes classic cars disappear from museums, a mission that doubles as a push to get Artie's head out of mourning and into the Warehouse game. They arrive at the dealership from which cars have been disappearing and discover that the owner's working with an unidentified thief. The team plants an ad that Artie's classic car will be sent to a museum, then wait for the thief to steal it. Claudia creates a GPS device so they can track the car, but a last-minute repair forces her to hide in the trunk while the thief drives the car away.
Jinks and Artie follow the now-repaired GPS signal to a garage where Claudia is mid-fight with the thief – a saleswoman from the car dealership! She gets away, but Claudia snags one of the gloves that make it possible to drive cars through walls without a scratch. Artie grabs it and drives after her, realizing that the cars are indestructible, but only once. He forces the thief into a game of chicken and wins, bagging the other glove and the criminal, but scaring the bejeezus out of Jinks and Claudia.
Pete and Myka are in for a shock, too: the woman who came to their office is not Rebecca Carson. They find the new widow at her home, where she tells them the blonde is a singer at the Indigo Club – time for Pete to take Myka dancing. They catch their blonde, who tells them backstage that she was hired by Barnabus to keep an eye on Carson, and when Carson tried to keep the elephant for himself, she – Lilly – knew he was in trouble and sought his protection.
They receive a note and meet its author in the alley – it's Anthony Bishop, transported into his own manuscript-artifact by the grief that he felt after losing his wife. Lilly is based on his wife, and Bishop tells the gumshoes to leave the story – and Lilly. But of course they can't stay in the story forever, so they trace Barnabus – now the chief suspect in Carson's murder – to a rendezvous spot, but they arrive moments after the real Rebecca Carson kills him with the elephant. She fells Pete and Myka, who's saved by the sound of police sirens, revives Pete with CPR.
They return to the Indigo Club, knowing Rebecca will go after the riches of Barnabus, but Bishop has the same plan – he wants to save Lilly by taking her far away, and to do that, he'll need Barnabus's money. Pete and Myka arrive to see Rebecca guarding Lilly with the elephant, and Myka takes the one clear shot she sees to eliminate the ruthless character.
Justice befalls Rebecca, and Pete and Myka have their artifact. Pete vibes that the elephant can cut a hole in the fog of the scene, and creates a portal that will get them back to the real world. Bishop tries to say goodbye to Lilly and return with the agents, but his love is so strong that he decides to take his chances in this novel. When Pete and Myka return, they find manuscript pages that were once blank now filled with a story of Bishop and Lilly escaping to Bora Bora and living happily ever after.
Artie's story doesn't end as well – the Regents have asked Jinks to keep an eye on Artie, and when he reports on the drag race, Kosan implies that special action may be needed, but keeps mum about what that will be.