Philo Vance takes a hand when, one evening, a daughter of the Greene family is shot to death and another one is wounded. The family comprises two sons and three daughters under the rule of their mother, a bedridden invalid who spends her days feeling sorry for herself and cursing her ungrateful children (the youngest, Ada, is adopted). The family is required to live in the Greene mansion under the terms of their father’s will. The German cook seems strangely attached to the adopted daughter; other hangers-on include the enigmatic butler and the mother’s physician, who is courting Sibella Greene. Later, the two Greene brothers and the mother are killed and the only family left are the two surviving daughters, jaunty modern Sibella and shy Ada, against whom two murder attempts have been made. The murders are complicated by sets of mysterious footprints appearing in the snow which seem to have been made in an impossible way and by the suggestion that the paralyzed mother has been seen walking in the halls. Philo Vance reduces the facts of the case to just under a hundred paragraphs, sets them in order, and solves the case.