In The Case of the Murdered Apprentice, Rudolf Lurgens was a Dutch pilot who smuggled bird of paradise feathers into England for his sister, Mrs Karena Vanester. A fromer employee of a Dutch airline company operating in Indonesia, Lurgens had been discharged for smuggling. Back in Holland, he then took to smuggling bird of paradise feathers for his sister who was a milliner. She used the feathers to make fine hats for ladies but the bird was endangered and it was illegal in Britain to kill them. Therefore smuggling the feathers in either gave her something almost impossible to obtain or else saved her from paying very high duties on them.
When investigating the death of aircraft apprentice Edmund Teale, Biggles concluded that as the body had been found on the Dutch coast, it proved that an aircraft must have been used to carry it away after the murder. Teale's last known whereabouts put him on a path which passed Larford Hall, which had the only field in the neighbourhood large enough for an aircraft to land. The hall was the residence of Mrs Karena Vanester. From the local postmaster, Mr Green, Biggles learnt that Mrs Vanester was in the habit of sending letters and telegrams to one Rudolf Lurgens at Rosenhalle, near Hillegom in Holland. Believing that Lurgens might be the murderer, Biggles sent a telegram to him purporting to be Mrs Vanester and asking him to return to Britain at once.
Biggles was waiting at Larford Hall when Lurgens arrived. He immediately put the the Dutch pilot under arrest for the murder of Teale. Lurgens was unwilling to go quietly. Knowing that he had nothing to lose, he drew a gun and shot Biggles in the side. Biggles had drawn his weapon at almost the same time and his shot also hit home. Biggles spent a week in hospital as a result of the gunshot wound. Lurgens was also successfully operated upon and would have recovered but he then made an attempt to escape, tearing his stitches and causing complications which led to his death a fortnight later.
A search at Larford Hall revealed a large quantity of other contraband goods besides the feathers of rare birds. In Lurgen's home in Holland, police also found a large amount of black market British currency.