Having been confined to a wheelchair for many years, the ailing and irritable Minerva Osterman has turned her isolated mansion into a virtual prison not only for herself but for her spinster daughter, Stephanie her long-suffering housekeeper, Nora, and her personal physician, Dr. Adler. Fearing that her death may be imminent, Minerva has drawn up her will and summoned her two nieces, Mary and Belle, so that she may confront all her possible heirs in person and watch their reactions as the will is read. She asks her nieces to come alone, but they arrive with their respective fiancés, whom Minerva grudgingly allows to stay. Before revealing the contents of her will, however, she has the mysterious Dr. Adler put her into a hypnotic trance, during which she picks up a deck of cards and turns over the three of clubs—the card of death. Her prediction is that someone in the room will die before the weekend is over—a prediction that comes true when she herself dies of a spider bite. After that, more bodies turn up, and fear and suspicion grow among the remaining. The will disappears, a diabolic plot is revealed, and then, at last, the murderer is unmasked—in a chilling, exciting climax that is held off until the final perilous moments of the play.
A gripping and suspense-filled murder mystery in which the tension is deftly relieved, at the right moments, by the zany doings of some of its characters. Set in a brooding Victorian mansion high on a remote bluff above the Pacific Ocean, the play centers on the rich and eccentric Minerva Osterman, who has called together her potential heirs for the advance reading of her will. She knows that it will please some and disappoint others—unless they take the sinister steps necessary to protect their interests.