in September 1911 a handsome, middle-aged widow in a small New England town is quietly doing her chores on a Saturday morning — she has the ironing board out, and maybe she has already sprinkled the curtains she is about to press, and she is chatting with the guy she’s hired to paint a bedroom. The next thing you know, all hell has broken loose: There is blood, and chaos, and neighbors tromping in and out, littering the floor with golden leaves from hemlocks and maples, and there are police, doctors, the local Congregational minister and his wife, and an open bottle of brandy. Nothing is ever the same for the widow from that day forward. The painter is dead, shot through the heart. The story is told the way the people of that time devoured it—through the day-by-day newspaper accounts of the murder investigation and trial. It brings you back in time to ask, as people asked then: What happened to the house painter in the home of Mrs. Dodge on that fateful September day in 1911?
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