When Pamela Dodd arrives in the sleepy Chesapeake village of River Glen to hunt for treasure, she unleashes a summer of chaos and murder. The wake from her speeding motor yacht erodes a cliff, causing an abandoned cottage to topple off the edge–and revealing a mass grave under its foundation. The discovery sends River Glen into a panic. Was Henry Herssen, the reclusive fisherman who owned the cottage, responsible for the killings, or has someone else been burying bodies at the top of the cliff for decades? As Detective Jay Braden and his assistant Will Wilkins investigate the murder site, the clues point to Tolchester College, a small school with secrets of its own. Braden discovers a discarded animal canister with a desiccated spider in a nearby shed. Will stumbles into a hidden pit containing a chair with restraints. It seems one of the professors has been conducting experiments using poisonous Australian funnel spiders. And their version of the scientific method is deadly.