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Jerry Aylward
Late on the evening of September 23, 2018, two seventeen-year-old high school sweethearts returning home from a celebratory birthday date are discovered dead. Their car found off the road in a vacant horse pasture in front of an enormously large deciduous scarlet oak, on the lavish estate of J. Barrington Cook the fourth. A wealthy but secretive fourth generation landowner. The first J. Barrington Cook had been bequeathed the posh private parcel by England’s King George III in 1780, for his loyal and devoted service to the crown. Finn, a decorated combat veteran, with ten years as a hardened and dogged county homicide investigator, who’s tough cop exterior hides a deep emotional scarring contributed to an unnurtured childhood, and who carries a callous indifference towards others, living or dead, happens upon the recent, yet unreported accident. His initial assessment of the fatal scene is simply a broken pasture fence, the gruesome after-conditions of the lifeless teenagers, along with a seemingly undamaged car, suggesting it was anything but an accident, if not a meticulously staged event, along with a well-planned execution. The detective’s suspicions aren’t shared by everyone––or anyone. As the responding crime scene techs believe it to be nothing more a case of a young, inexperienced driver, coupled with a high rate of speed, mixed with a dangerous road pattern, resulting in an unfortunate accident with two untimely deaths. An inebriated medical examiner who refuses to classify the deaths until he has viewed both the toxicology, and pathology reports, delaying the necessary and immediate investigation. Finn’s lieutenant also refuses to authorize an official murder investigation, sighting the lack of medical and scientific certainty, with perhaps, his own personality traits blending with the detective’s notoriously bold investigative habits, factoring into his decision. Not satisfied, Finn embarks on an unofficial murder investigation where he learns the family home of his murdered (accidental death) male victim, may have ties to a series of undetermined deaths dating back two-hundred and thirty-eight years. The dwelling is also reputed to have the ever-present spirit of beautiful Sally Townsend, an American Revolutionary patriot who has managed to keep secret her noble and resourceful involvement, though covert, in the war for liberty and independence from that very house, her family’s home. The current home of the Townsend’s Culper Spy Museum, in Oyster Bay, New York.