With associate Orrie Cather on the hook for the murder of an ex-showgirl, Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin must ally themselves with an eccentric showgirl to quash a blackmail plot and reveal the real killer.
Suspects abound during post WWII America, as Wolfe and Goodwin are busy sifting through the mess known as The Bureau of Price Regulations because its leader was found murdered. No one, not even the FBI, nor the NIA, is above suspicion.
Two illegal immigrant barbershop workers, fearful of a police detective investigating a hit-and-run, flee to seek refuge with Wolfe and Goodwin. When Goodwin investigates on their behalf, he discovers the detective has been murdered.
Arriving at a remote lodge at the request of the State Department and a South American diplomat, a reluctant Wolfe prepares to cook trout for an oil tycoon's fishing party when Archie discovers one of the men dead in the river.