A beautiful heiress attempts to seek refuge in Nero Wolfe's house without revealing her identity or reasons for hiding. When she is turned away and found murdered shortly thereafter, Archie Goodwin takes off on his own to find the killer.
Moved by Archie Goodwin's zeal in trying to find the killer of heiress Priscilla Eads, Nero Wolfe takes on Archie as a client to aid him in his quest. Tension mounts when another woman who knew the heiress is found murdered.
Nero Wolfe is stunned when Archie Goodwin reveals evidence of his impending engagement. However, Archie is no less shocked when accompanying his so-called fiancée to a Christmas party by the murder of their host.
A woman from Montenegro claims that Wolfe's long-lost adopted daughter is in New York, and is accused of theft at a prestigious fencing club. Her troubles increase when a club member is found stabbed to death and she is the prime suspect.
As Wolfe tries to unravel the mystery of a young woman who could be his long-lost adopted daughter, she draws him and Archie Goodwin further and further into a web of deceit, political intrigue and murder.