Wolfe's personal friend and doctor asked him to see a patient of one of his colleagues - the latter seems to need a professional help from a private detective. The guy has a delusion his hands are always bloody and he cannot wash out the blood:
Wolfe reluctantly agreed, but nothing came out of this visit. Well, almost nothing: it gave Archie Goodwin an idea.
Wolfe had not had a paying client for a while and his bank account was somewhat in bad shape - to put it mildly. The visitor was working at a company where a murder which completely baffled the police happened recently. A top executive came to the office of another executive and opened a drawer in the desk of the latter which the owner rarely used. For his troubles the former got blew up by a hidden bomb.
Archie forces his (Wolfe's) services on the victim's widow only to realize this is probably the hardest case they ever took. Was the guy killed the intended victim? What the heck was he looking for in the drawer? No wonder the police reached a dead end in their investigations.
The first book of the series was written in late thirties, this one in early seventies. As a result it practically feels contemporary. The detectives use high-tech equipment which was unheard of during the Great Depression time. Their investigation also touches such still relative today subjects as synthetic drugs (I do not mean aspirin here), Arab terrorists, corporate backstabbing among high management, and others. It really feels like modern day, but without internet and mobile phones.
This is one of the last books of Wolfe investigations and as a good mystery it delivers. 4 stars is the rating for a very good installment of the series.