Carson is off to San Francisco for some rich white man legal convention and decides to take Nancy and George along for the ride, though he does let them stay by themselves in a completely different hotel. While wandering through the park, they see a woman in fuchsia, who looks nothing at all like the woman from the cover, drawing in a sketchbook. A few minutes later, they hear the woman scream, run back to help her, and see a guy running away with her purse.
Nancy and George call the cops and go to the hospital to see her. Officer Hayes, the man in charge, doesn't really seem to believe that Nancy can do anything, but he does agree to let them see the woman. She wakes up with no memories of her life, which leads to the hospital and cops classifying her as a Jane Doe. Lieutenant Antonio, who worked with Nancy before, shows up, acts super grumpy, and actually snaps at her for not giving a better description of the mugger.
Since they were smart enough to grab the woman's sketchbook, Nancy goes through it and sees a drawing of a boat. She and George later see the same boat in the harbor but notice the name on the real one is different from the one in the sketch. Nancy also discovers a recreation of a famous painting and goes to the museum where the painting is, but no one remembers Jane Doe. Her and George invite the poor woman to move into their hotel suite with them until she can recover. Jane confesses that the only thing she can remember about her life is seafood. That's a great clue for someone who lives in San Francisco...
Jane starts to remember really lame stuff about her life like how she loved wearing hot pink. She also recalls being in an earthquake but that it didn't scare her. Lieutenant Antonio brings Nancy in for a lineup because he thinks he caught the mugger. Even though she can't identify him, the lieutenant is convinced he has the right guy. Jane, who still remembers only bits and pieces of her life, somehow thinks she knew the guy who attacked her.
Nancy goes back to the museum and meets a security guard named Jerry. Jerry not only remembers Jane Doe but knows that she works in this trendy little restaurant called the Earthquake Cafe because she sometimes wore her uniform in the museum. There, Nancy meets the very young owner Arch, the manager Corie, and a waiter named Jack.
Though they give her Jane's real name, Lilly, they don't reveal too much more. Corie seems really hesitant to talk, and Jack just wants to flirt with Nancy. On the way out, Dinh, a waiter, stops her. He tells her that Lilly was actually dating Arch, which pissed off Corie because she liked him. Dinh also says that Corie pretended to be Lilly's friend while secretly trying to take her down.
Nancy goes to Lieutenant Antonio to reveal her research, which annoys me because there's no mention of it. She goes to the library, we see what she finds, and then she does a shit ton more before meeting with him. Apparently, Lilly's family owned a very famous seafood business. Her brother Eric started working for the company and she was supposed to help after going to business school. Instead, Lilly moved to Berkeley, changed her major from business to art, and got cut off by her family. She took a job as a waitress to pay her way through school, but she's about to inherit her trust fund. Nancy thinks that's motive for someone to keep her from getting her money.
Lilly isn't ready to see her family yet, so Nancy agrees to met her brother for her. Eric is your stereotypical frat boy rich kid. He thinks she deserved to get attacked for neglecting her family duties and says that art is a waste of time. When Nancy brings up the trust fund, he makes it clear the he will never let his sister walk away from them with the family money. I really don't get rich people.
After finding out that she lived on a houseboat, the same one from the sketchbook, George and Nancy take her home, only to find that someone ransacked the place. Lilly has absolutely no memories of the boat but does remember where she hid her diary. It gives them no information except that she apparently really liked the way Arch stood up for himself and that he has a violent temper. He even flipped out on Dinh from the restaurant for spilling a tray once.
When they get back to the hotel, there are two messages waiting for her. One is from the lieutenant letting her know that he hasn't found anything yet. The other is a photograph of Corie passionately kissing Arch. Before she can do anything, someone calls her room and threatens her to drop the investigation. Since this is Nancy Drew we're talking about, she makes plans to meet with Arch the next day and then goes out on a date with Jack.
Jack turns out to be a wannabe actor who woos her and then comments on how sad it is that they live so far apart. Though he keeps flirting with her, he gets cold and a little cagey when she starts asking questions about the restaurant. He won't even admit that Lilly and Arch are dating. Why does Nancy keep going after guys who aren't Ned??
Arch is nearly as cagey during their meeting the next day. He admits that he knew Lilly had amnesia and was in the hospital because he has friends who work there, which is odd because they didn't find out her identify until after the hospital released her. After learning that she isn't ready to see him yet, he suggests they grab a bite to eat. Nancy makes up an excuse to go back to his office, goes through his stuff, and finds a document with Lotus Flower on it, which is the name of Lilly's boat. She manages to get a copy and sneak out of his office.
Arch reveals some great stuff over lunch. Corie had a criminal record when he hired her to work in the mail room of his head office. They fell in love, started dating, and dated for more than a year until he met Lilly. He dumped Corie for Lilly, and Corie agreed to keep their relationship a secret for who knows why. Arch also planned to propose to Lilly and made plans to sweep her away to a romantic trip to Mexico that weekend. He keeps asking if he can see her, and they keep changing the subject. According to Arch, he encouraged Lilly to give up her trust fund because he could support her once they married.
Since George went to San Francisco for a vacation and not a mystery, she demands that Nancy go with her to Alcatraz. Nancy checks with the harbor and learns that there is no record of the Lotus Flower boat anywhere. After looking over the document she copied, they find it contains a list of Asian and Hispanic names but can't figure out what it means, even Dinh is on the list. Am I the only one who knows where this is going?
Nancy hangs out a little longer on the island until someone comes up behind her, bashes her on the head, and starts punching her. I should really start keeping track of how many times she gets smacked on the back of the head or attacked. She gets away, runs back to the hotel, and starts putting things together, which leads to her breaking into Arch's office.
Not only does she find the number to the hotel, which means he knows where Lilly is, but she also discovers a way to access saved voicemail messages. One is from Corie warning him that she caught Lilly eavesdropping on their last conversation. The second message is from Lilly telling him that she knows his secret. Lilly asks him to meet her in the same place she was attacked. Nancy calls the hotel and warns George to get Lilly out of the hotel right away.
After stopping by the Cafe, Nancy talks with Jack, who tells her that they have a lot of foreigners working in the kitchen and a lot of turnover. She then talks to Corie and figures out the whole story. Arch has a shady corporation called RSI that he uses to smuggle illegal immigrants into the country and gives them jobs in his kitchen. Dinh is one of them and even tells her that he only makes $1 an hour. Corie freaks out and cries because she's still in love with Arch.
Nancy learns that George and Lilly left the hotel in the company of a man who looks just like Arch. She heads to his house and sees Eric there. Eric doesn't believe that his sister was kidnapped but does say that he realized he was being an ass and wanted to make up with her. When she wasn't in the hotel, he went to Arch's house because he heard they were dating. They then hear a scream that sounds just like Lilly.
They run inside and find Arch holding a gun to her head with George tied up next to her. To make a long story short, he confesses everything and says that he only wanted to marry her to get to her trust fund because he needed more cash. When she found out about his secret, he tried to kill her. The only problem is that she didn't know he was a criminal, she only knew he wanted to elope. He's so shocked that Nancy and Eric overpower him and tie him up. Lilly agrees to move back in with her parents to recuperate, Carson has a friend who can help Dinh get legal status, and Lieutenant Antonio has to admit that Nancy is a pretty good detective.
*George has apparently never been to San Francisco before, and a comment at the beginning makes it seem like Nancy hasn't been either. Then, she outright says she's not only been there but solved a case in the city before!
*Nancy makes a comment about how the lieutenant should gather evidence before making a decision, and he rightly points out that he does have some evidence and that she's not a cop.
*Jane/Lilly has enough sense to make fun of the way George dresses and the clothes she lent her. She does it in a joking way, but it's still pretty bitchy given that they could have just left her in the hospital!
*This mystery is so confusing! All of Arch's restaurants are turning a profit, and he's called one of the top young business owners in the state. He's making people work under the table for so little to make even more money, plus he's making money off the people he brings into the country. Why would he need her trust fund?