The 3 short stories herein first appeared in 1951 - 1952. The Korean War was underway, and the worst congressional witch-hunts for communists were going strong, McCarthy's among them.
"Home to Roost" (a.k.a. "Nero Wolfe and the Communist Killer") - Mrs. and Mr. Benjamin Rackell (he's not a wimp, but she keeps interrupting and does most of the talking) want to hire Wolfe to investigate the poisoning of their nephew, Arthur. We get the background of the murder as they explain it to Wolfe before he accepts the case, along with an impression of both characters as they tell it. She annoys Wolfe, being an interrupter and a cliché-tosser.
Arthur appeared on the surface to be a communist, but defended himself to his aunt by claiming to be an undercover FBI agent. Did someone kill him because they thought he was a communist, or because he wasn't? And which was he, anyway?
"The Cop-Killer" - Adapted for A&E's 2nd Nero Wolfe season. Archie shot his mouth off about his skills as a detective once too often in the Goldenrod Barbershop that both he and Wolfe patronize. Carl and Tina Vardas (the hat-check guy and the manicurist), as illegal immigrants who escaped a Russian concentration camp, panicked and fled when a policeman came to the shop, and have come to Archie for help.
By the time Archie gets to the shop, Jake Wallen, who was chasing a lead on a hit-and-run driver, has been stabbed through the heart with a long pair of scissors in Tina's manicure booth, and Purley's on the scene. Wolfe and Archie have to open this one up fast, before Manhattan homicide finds out they've been shielding suspects in a cop-killing, or their professional lives are over.
"The Squirt and the Monkey" - Harry Koven, creator of the comic strip Dazzle Dan, wants to find out who stole his Marley .32, but he doesn't want to hire Wolfe to do it; all he wants is to pay $100 for the loan of Archie's gun in a cockamamie scheme to find the thief himself. Naturally, somebody uses one of the guns to commit a murder at Koven's place: Adrian Getz, a.k.a. the Squirt, an annoying hanger-on who wielded an unexplained amount of influence over the strip. Worse, it's been made picturesque - the gun was left in the cage of Getz' pet monkey, who curled up around it to keep warm, and is now dying of exposure.
Wolfe's temper reaches epic levels in this one, as Archie becomes a suspect and their licenses are suspended. (Archie could say 'I told you so', but doesn't, which makes it worse). His leverage to get suspects to talk to him here is the threat of a sizable lawsuit to compensate for the loss of his living. There's an Ellery Queenesque feel to this one, especially in Wolfe's summation during the finale in the office, as he lists points of evidence and details how they promote or eliminate suspects.