Synopsis of Prisoner’s Base
After an argument between Archie and Wolfe about Archie’s weekly salary, a young woman arrives with an unusual request. She wants to rent a room until June 30, within a week, without revealing hes identity or presence to anyone. Wolfe rejects the idea, but before making a final decision, a lawyer named Perry Helmar arrives. He is the legal guardian of Priscilla Eads, a missing young woman, and wants to hire Wolfe to find her before June 30. The photographs he has brought with him convince Archie that Priscilla is the girl who waits upstairs.
Her father’s will stipulates that Priscilla will inherit 90% of the shares of Softdown, a major towel manufacturer, when she turns 25 on June 30. However, her ex-husband, Eric Hagh, who lives in South America, says she signed a document that gives him half of her property. In addition, several Softdown executives are worried that Priscilla will suddenly become a majority shareholder.
Wolfe does not make an immediate decision and tells Helmar that he will call him the next day. Then he offers Priscilla an option. She can pay the same rate offered by Helmar and stay incognito in the house, or she can leave. If she leaves, then Wolfe will accept Helmar’s terms and start looking for her the next morning. She decides to leave.
However, before Wolfe can call Helmar the next day, Inspector Cramer brings news that both Priscilla and her maid, Margaret Fomos, have been strangled. Margaret had keys to Priscilla’s apartment, but they were not found in her body, which led the police to deduce that the killer attacked her first to gain access to Priscilla.
Wolfe is not interested in the case, since he has no client or prospect of payment. Enraged, Archie leaves to start investigating on his own. He enters a Softdown staff meeting. Four of the attendees are managers who will inherit Priscilla’s actions instead, and learns that Helmar will also receive shares. Before he can find out anything else, Lieutenant Rowcliff arrives and arrests him, arguing that he has supplanted a police officer to enter the building.
After that, Archie then becomes the client of Nero Wolfe who is forced to investigate the case.