A young boy who wipes windshields in Manhattan, sees a woman wearing Spider earrings mouthing the words "Help Police" in an expensive car and takes this to Nero Wolfe, expecting to be partners with him on the case. Then it gets complicated.
A woman goes to see Wolfe and asks for his help. It seems like a known criminal hired her to pretend to be his daughter. She now wants out because one of the criminal's rivals grabbed her to get to him. She thinks he's trying to keep her actual daughter safe. When he shows up asking her to go with him, Wolfe convinces him to let her go. He tells Archie to take her to a hotel and when they get there someone shoots her. Later the criminal wants to see Wolfe but before he could go in, he's shot too. Later the criminal's lawyer goes to see Wolfe who tells him that his ...
Wolfe is hired by a man to find his son whom he hasn't seen in 7 years since they had a falling out. He thinks his son is in New York. Wolfe upon seeing his photo and the photo of a man in the newspaper he thinks it's the man's son. And it seems the son is currently on trial for murder, for supposedly killing the abusive husband of a woman he knows. Wolfe then sets out to find out if he is guilty and if not who is the killer.
During WWII, Nero Wolfe (code name Butterfly) was in charge of an intelligence unit. Now, one members of that unit who betrayed them to the enemy, was convicted and sent prison to for 20 years is out and seeking revenge on "Butterfly".
Wolfe is asked by the granddaughter of an old friend to investigate her father's death. It seems he went out on his boat and it blew up. She suspects his wife because she thinks his wife is having an affair. So Wolfe looks into it and learns that her boyfriend might not be who claims to be. He also learns that her father was a degenerate gambler.