To set the plot of The Second Confession in motion, James U. Spurling, a wealthy industrialist, comes to Nero Wolfe’s brownstone and hires the famous detective to do a bit of tricky work for him. Spurling is convinced that his daughter Gwenn’s suitor, Louis Rony, is a Communist. Spurling asks Wolfe to prove this, but Wolfe decides it would be simpler to look for evidence that will convince Gwenn to drop Rony. And so, Archie Goodwin is sent down to the countryside to get some fresh air and do some undercover sleuthing.
But before you know it, Nero Wolfe gets a telephone call from Arnold Zeck, who introduced himself in the previous book in the series, And Be A Villain. Zeck demands that Wolfe cease the investigation, and when Wolfe refuses, Zeck arranges for some armed goons to shoot up Wolfe’s brownstone, completely destroying the plant rooms. This means war, and Nero Wolfe reacts to this threat by breaking one of his most sacred rules: he steps out of his house.