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At the 37th libel suit Thurlow Potts has brought to court to protect the family name, the family’s beleaguered lawyer Charlie Paxton loses the case. Thurlow seems driven beyond reason to protect the million dollar shoe business of his mother, Cornelia Potts, known to the press as the ‘Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.’ But some people in the courtroom think Thurlow should be taken seriously, including Ellery Queen, who is looking on while waiting with his father, Inspector Queen of the New York Police Department, for another case.
Afraid Thurlow will make good on his threats, Paxton begs Queen for help. Paxton’s fiancee is Thurlow’s sister, and she secures Queen an invitation to dinner, where Queen meets the extended and unusual Potts family. But before the meal ends, Thurlow challenges his younger brother to a duel, and not one, but two murders ensue. For the twin victims, and for Queen who must now solve the crimes, the fairytale is over.