Nestled between the verdant foothills of the coastal mountains and the azure waters of the Santa Barbara Harbor, Montecito, California, in 1951, is an enchanting village with magnificent mansions hidden behind locked gates, tall shrubs and high walls.
The century-old Catholic Church with a missionary façade and arched bell tower serves as a notable landmark. The nearby cemetery situated on undulating green acres with solemn mausoleums and headstones overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and the grand hotels and inns built between the First and Second World Wars serve as backdrops for the principal characters.
Within the adobe walls of an old Spanish-Mexican style mansion, its mistress, Seῆora Juanita Castillo Montenegro, a middle-aged society reina, sits at her mirrored vanity dresser brushing her hair. Upon seeing an image behind her, she calls out, “Is that you?” A shot rings out, the seῆora falls forward—dead.