Synopsis of The Golden Spiders
After Nero Wolfe reacts petulantly to a change in one of his favorite foods, Archie Goodwin to annoy him allows Pete Drossos, a neighborhood child, to enter and request Wolfe’s help in a case.
Pete says that while washing the windows of a car at a traffic light, the driver, a woman wearing gold earrings in the form of spiders, vocalizing, asks Pete to call the police. Pete believes that the man sitting next to her was threatening her.
To please Pete, Wolfe has Archie pass this information to the police. The next day they learn that the same car, now driven by a man in a brown suit and hat, ran over and killed Pete. Matthew Birch, an agent of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, was also hit and killed by the same car, apparently the same day Pete went to Wolfe. While this suggests that Birch was the man Pete saw in the car, it shows that Birch was killed before Pete. Therefore, he is discarded as Pete’s killer.
Wolfe is visited by Pete’s mother, who gives them her son’s savings, earned by cleaning windshields ($ 4.30). She asks them to use it to find her killer. Archie, angry at Wolfe’s refusal to get involved, uses the money to put an ad in the newspaper, asking the woman in the car to contact Wolfe.
Laura Fromm, a wealthy widow, responds to the announcement. And arrives at Wolfe’s house wearing the spider-shaped earrings. Wolfe and Archie determine that she is not the person they are looking for. But she is horrified to learn of Pete’s death and claims that she thinks she knows who was driving. Fromm refuses to reveal the information. The next day Wolfe and Archie receive news that she was also hit and killed.
Enraged by the fact that two people who came to him for help are now dead, Wolfe decides to solve the murders.