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PROLOGUE
 
BLACKWELL GRANGE – CONNECTICUT – JUNE 1926
 
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Connecticut, 1926 – Blackwell Grange is a home of wealth, power, and family. It was built atop a forest clearing in the New England countryside, located six miles from the nearest town. After taking a winding, narrow road through the Eastern Forest, one can find the turret roof of the Gate House.
 
The grounds are filled with gardens, terraces, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a gazebo, a fountain, a lake with a boat house, a large stable accompanied by an even larger carriage house, and the Black Family Crypt – wrapped up in the thorns of the overgrown rose garden.
 
Through the front doors, one can fully embrace the majesty of the tall, gothic mansion.
 
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The Hall is a long room which stretches past every room on the ground floor. It is three stories tall and can be viewed from the hallways and landings upstairs. The walls are red and adorned with paintings of the previous owners.
 
The Lounge is a feminine reception with an oriental flare. The sofas, card table chairs, and window seat are all upholstered with pink fabric. The white piano glistens in the crystal chandelier.
 
The Dining Room was once two rooms – explaining the two large fireplaces on each end of the massive space. The marble floors are complimented by the pale yellow walls. The center of the room is dominated with a hand carved feasting table. Fourteen-sixteen people could easily sit around it – and it is set for fifteen.
 
The Kitchen is a large old-fashion room, with a wide range, a wall length oven, and a porcelain sink with a water pump. The floor is made of flagstones. There is a wooden table in the center of the room with many nicks and cuts in the wood. A rack of copper pots and kettles hang above the wooden table.
 
The Ballroom is twice as large as the Dining Room, with mirrored walls. Tall, imposing statues of Roman Gods and Goddesses are set into the walls and corners. The domed ceiling is punctuated with a colossal Tiffany chandelier.
 
The Conservatory is a large octagonal room with walls and ceilings made of thick panes of glass. The family parrot constantly serenades the room. Exotic plants line the edges of the room with wicker furniture and bird cages filling in the gaps. A telescope is positioned out towards the lake. Near the door are a sink and cupboard. There is an elaborate tea set displayed in a wooden hutch near a large fish tank.
 
The Billiard Room is a warm hunting retreat that smells of whiskey and cigars. Lions, elephant, buffalo, leopard, antelope and rhinoceros heads cover the walls. The large wet bar, snooker table, and leather furniture offer as much as can be expected.
 
The Library is dark and dusty. Every wall is covered with books. The windows are small and the curtains are pulled tight. The couch and two chairs are covered in sheets. The desk and long book table appear to be the only areas of the room commonly visited.
 
The Study is a comfortable, masculine den. A black piano, red chaise lounge, and an overstuffed armchair rest on top of Persian rugs over a soft wall-to-wall carpet. At the head of the room is a wall-length fireplace – across from the fireplace is a large foreboding desk.
 
The Second Floor contains the bedrooms of the family – Dr. Black , head of the house, Miss Dove , his fiancée, Fivel , her son, Professor Plum , Dr. Black’s half-brother, and John Boddy , Dr. Black’s seventeen-year-old nephew.
 
The Third Floor houses the smaller, yet elegant guest bedrooms. There are nineteen guest rooms in total, counting the two spare rooms in the attic.
 
The household staff – Mrs. White , the housekeeper, Mr. Ash , the butler, Fraulein Bloom , the cook, Nurse Silver , the nanny, and  Yvette , the parlor maid all live in their own quarters above the Gate House.
 
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Dr. Black has invited nine guests to a weekend reunion. They are arriving on the evening of June 5th. He should have just called off the party and made sweet memories with his family while there’s still happiness to go around.