At night, on a seedy street near a construction site, a car pulls up. A man carries a briefcase to a nearby newsrack, where he removes several papers, puts several packs of money in the rack, and replaces the papers. The man, injured, falls onto the rack, then staggers to a nearby pay phone, dropping the briefcase on the way.
Burke and his current girl are watching a western on TV when a call comes. The girl threatens to scream if Burke answers the phone. The caller is the injured man, who tells Burke that he's at 5th and Central and wants to report a murder - his. The man dies and Burke leaves the girl to watch TV alone.
The dead man is Madison Cooper, dubbed by Burke "the Golden Attorney". Since there is a lot of blood in his car, it is assumed he was stabbed elsewhere. But why did such a high-class lawyer drive to such a seedy part of town? Burke teases Tim for not having figured it out already, but then he has no idea, either. A news vendor (Wally) drives up to the newsrack nearby and begins putting in new papers. When he discovers the money he is shocked. As he starts to count it, it begins to blow away. He crawls after the bills, trying to catch them, and ends at Burke's feet.
Down at the station, they grill Wally and he asks what they want from him. He usually delivers papers at 9:30 but was late that night, due to a flat tire. Burke's bought papers from him for 12 years; Wally asks if their friendship means nothing. Burke still wants to know why $30,000 was in the newsrack. Wally says he wants an attorney; he wants Madison Cooper. Burke asks if Cooper didn't defend Wally's father years ago. Wally laughs and says Cooper came to the preliminary hearing, then dumped him when he got a bigger case. Wally's father was left with a lousy lawyer and ended up getting life (he died in prison 6 years later). Burke gives Wally money for flowers to be sent to San Quentin - his father was a good "customer" to the police.
At Cooper's home, Burke finds Les already there. He's discovered a blood stain by the window. Burke wonders what diverted Cooper's attention, and tells Tim and Les his own version of a Charlie Chan piece of advice:
WHEN YOU SEE PICTURE, LOOK BEHIND.
Just then, he moves the picture next to the window and locates a wall safe. On a table are the transcripts of four of Cooper's old cases. One is Wally's father's case. There is a note about how angry and bitter Wally was. Tim says that this information just abouts sews up the case against Wally.
"JUST ABOUT" IS TWENTY MILES AWAY - BURKE'S LAW
At Cooper's office, Cooper's law clerk, Carole Durand, is working late getting papers together. She is very busy and is very cold to Burke, but is shocked when told that Cooper has been murdered. He had asked her to pack these particular papers special, to be sent to a storage firm. They include papers concerning a paternity suit involving old-time matinee film star Elliott Dunning, who was defended by Cooper against (then) 17-year old Amy Booth, who claimed Dunning seduced her. Burke tells Carole that nothing can leave the office until he has checked it out, including her. She tells him she has a date, and thinks he's making a pass at her. She says she never trusts men. Burke handcuffs her and takes her downtown. At the station, Carole is kept handcuffed to a chair. She complains that she's pooped and wants to go home and sleep. When Tim finds Dunning's address, Burke tosses Carole the key to the cuffs and says why is she still hanging around?
At the glamorous Dunning mansion, they are greeted by the great man himself at the door. Dunning, a flamboyant ham (who hated rival Valentino) only lets them into the house after they've sufficiently flattered his talent and career. He reminds them that he was acquitted in the paternity suit. They ask him how to find Amy Booth and he calls her a vulture. He tells them "his side" of the story - the story is told in a hokey flashback, beginning with a news headline and tabloid photo. It was a stormy night when Dunning found that Amy had broken into his home because she loved him. Since she was an orphan he took her in, had his housekeeper put her to bed, and gave her his own teddy bear, kissing her chastely on the forehead as she slept. As Dunning relates this fable, a man comes downstairs. He tells Burke this is his roommate (who he hates). The roommate actually owns the mansion now and lets Dunning stay on as his houseboy. The roommate used to be Dunning's stand-in, who invested all his salary in real estate and made a fortune.
Burke goes to Amy Booth's home. Amy, now a recluse, spends hours looking out her window. She gives Burke a paper flower for luck (she's obviously suffered mental trauma). She is currently standing over a table of many different types of wigs. She tells Burke she always feels she's ugly. She's felt ugly for 18 years, since the trial. When Burke asks, she says she actually got many acting job offers after the trial and is currently in rehearsal. Burke shows her a mirror as he leaves and insists that she look and see what she really looks like.
Burke wakes Carole up out of a sound sleep and offers her breakfast. She insists they go to a deli where they ask the astounded owner for salami sandwiches (Carole also insists on pickle, onion, and mashed). The deli owner then tells them it must be because they're in love. Carole is definitely warming up to Burke. He tells her he still needs to find the other two cases, Lovey Harrington and Arthur Shelby. Carole doesn't know about Shelby, but tells him Lovey can be found at the Continental Hotel.
At the hotel, Burke finds Lovey being serenaded by strolling musicians in the bar. Cooper defended her when her fifth husband "fell" off a building and she claimed a sizeable life insurance policy. Burke comments that all her husbands seem to die and reminds her of Howard, husband #6. He says Cooper knew Lovey was guilty at the trial and had insisted that she had also proposed to him (Cooper). Again, there is a hokey flashback, starting with a tabloid photo and news headline. Howard comes home from work in a blizzard; he's ill. Lovey draws him a hot bath, then opens the bathroom window to the storm and watches in glee as Howard shivers. Howard later died of pneumonia. Burke says the only reason Lovey didn't get the gas chamber was that the judge didn't believe in capital punishment. Instead she got 20 years (Lovey corrects him, saying she got one year off for good behavior). When told that Cooper was murdered, she says "how thoughtful of someone". Burke wants to know where he can find her if he needs to. Lovey says she'll be right there, her current husband owns the hotel. Burke says to warn him about tall buildings.
Burke discovers Carole in his pajamas in his bed, singing "10 Little Indians" in her sleep. When she wakes, she says her landlady read about the murder and threw her out and it's all Burke's fault and his pajamas itch. She suddenly realizes the pj's are all she has one and shuts the door, telling Burke she came there because she found Shelby's address.
Arthur Shelby, a seedy, unshaven, probably drunk, chemist, has a pet cat named Castro (aka Fidelio; called Castro because "I can't do a thing with him"). Shelby had been head chemist at Rollins. He was accused of selling information to a rival firm and then of embezzlement. He admits it and says he needed money for his experiments. Again, the tabloid photo and headline appear and we go to flashback. Cooper defended him and talked him into changing his plea to guilty - telling him the insurance company will cover everything and he'll get off with probation. Instead the judge sentenced him to 20 years. Shelby wonders how much the insurance companies paid Cooper to sell him out. He tells Tim and Les that, two nights ago, Copper came to him and offered to pay him $40,000 because he "owed" him. Shelby refused to take the tainted money, because Cooper got it dishonestly. Plus, he says, who needs money; he's just invented two months of food contained in a single pill, which will come in handy "just in case" - just in case someone pushed the wrong button. Shelby laughs as he sets off a mini mushroom cloud explosion.
So Burke figures out Cooper was had a fatal was trying to make it up to the people in all four cases by paying them money (including the money in the newsrack for Wally)before he died. Along with bloodstains, forensics finds straw on the driver's side of the car. A paper flower from the Shinto Gardens restaurant makes him think of "straw feet".
At the Shinto Gardens, he points out the straw sandals to Tim and Les. He picks one of the geisha waitresses and asks her to accompany him to his table. As she sits down to serve him, Burke gives her his handkerchief and insists she take off her makeup. It's Amy Booth. She says she went to Cooper during the paternity trial because her life was being ruined. She begged him to get her just enough money to go away and start over. Cooper shut the door in her face. Later she found out that Dunning had authorized Cooper to give her $15,000, but he always had to win, so he didn't do it. The last night of his life, he came to the restaurant and asked her to come home with him. After work she went, still dressed as a geisha (the wig was one of the ones on the table in her apartment). He offered her $15,000 - that was all her life was worth. When he went to get the money, she pulled a long pin out of the wig and stabbed him with it. Amy tells Burke that Cooper looked puzzled when she stabbed him and she felt sorry for him.
Carole comes by as Amy is being led away. She embarrasses Burke in front of Tim and Les by talking about wearing his pajamas; she's bought him new ones. In the car, Burke puts in a tape and he and Carole "dance" in the back seat, then kiss.