In Over My Head

Book #1 in
The Chesapeake Conference Center Mystery Series
by Diane Marquette

The prestigious Chesapeake Conference Center is situated on a secluded parcel of 200 wooded acres on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.  Despite its rustic setting, the Center offers its guests four-star accommodations and is one of the top-rated meeting facilities in the United States.  Highest-level government groups from nearby Washington, D.C. meet here on a regular basis, as do international organizations regarding finance and technology.

The body of Dr. Roger Henderson is found in the guest swimming pool on the first morning of a weeklong medical conference.  The Center’s employees and the Doctor’s colleagues are stunned by the accident.  The following day, the coroner’s report indicates the possibility that the doctor died a more violent death than originally thought, and he died at midnight, not during an early morning swim as everyone had presumed.  

During the investigation by the Bridgewood Sheriff’s Department, evidence is obtained that suggests that the General Manager of the Center, Ted Savin, may have been involved in the Doctor’s death.  Like most employees at the Center, Jill McCormick, a security guard, and Sandy Pearce, a Conference Assistant, don’t particularly like their boss.  Manager Ted Savin is certainly an inconsiderate and self-centered individual, but Jill and Sandy can’t believe that he could be capable of murdering Dr. Henderson.

When Jill and Sandy learn from one of the housekeepers that Ted may have been having an affair with the doctor’s wife, they begin to feel differently about their boss.  As eyewitnesses come forward and the evidence mounts up, Jill and Sandy believe that Ted may indeed be guilty.  In spite of the substantial information, Sheriff Lyndon Clark quickly dismisses it and refuses to suspect his good friend Ted in the murder.

Frustrated, Jill enlists the help of her lover, Deputy Mitch Garrett, who is as puzzled as she and Sandy are to explain the Sheriff’s refusal to implicate Ted.  As Mitch joins Jill and Sandy in their own investigation over the next several days, he realizes that the Sheriff must be guilty as well.  Jill and Mitch are faced with having to prove that their bosses are guilty of killing Dr. Henderson.

Alice, one of the housekeepers at the Center, presents Jill and Sandy with piece after piece of evidence that supports their theory of why and how the doctor was murdered.  
When another housekeeper disappears after being questioned by the Sheriff, everyone realizes that Ted and the Sheriff are probably becoming desperate to silence the witnesses.  After Ted threatens Alice, Jill and Sandy know that they must use creativity and determination to see that those responsible for the murder are apprehended before anyone else gets hurt.

Mitch questions the Sheriff about Ted’s possible guilt and is warned by the Sheriff to back off or lose his job.  Mitch feels that his hands are tied in trying to figure out a way to prove the Sheriff’s guilt.

Later in the week, during a violent evening thunderstorm, an irrational Ted keeps Jill, Sandy, and Alice at the Conference Center, trying to convince them of his innocence.  The Sheriff arrives to confront Ted and brings with him the Doctor’s widow, who has admitted that she and Ted were having an affair, and that together they killed the doctor.  Realizing that the Sheriff has tricked him and is going to arrest him for murder, Ted holds everyone at gunpoint.  Jill manages to escape and contacts Mitch.

Mitch tells her that has discovered that the Sheriff has only been laying a trap for Ted and is in no way himself guilty of any involvement in the murder.  Mitch is unable to come to their rescue because the storms have toppled trees across the only access road onto the Conference Center property.  When Jill learns that no one is able to come to help them, she knows that she alone must save the others and detain Ted.