The Stratemeyer syndicate used the pseudonym Victor Appleton when writing several series for boys including Tom Swift. Edward Stratemeyer did the original outlines for the series, which was published between 1910 and 1941. Tom Swift was a genius inventor. He specialized in technology especially related to transportation. Later the series was followed by the Tom Swift Jr. series. Tom and Ned Newton are reviewing financial records when a fire breaks out at the fireworks factory in town. They rescue Josephus Baxter, who is in the factory developing a new dye. During the havoc caused by the fire Mr. Baxter loses the formula, but he is positive that the owners of the factory have stolen it.