It's the middle of October and extremely cold wherever River Heights is, but Nancy and George are putting on halter tops and short shorts to hit some new club. It features a different theme every night of the week, and the current theme is summer beach party. Bess will meet them there. She recently got a job at the club and wants to surprise them with both her outfit and her job, which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable.
While waiting in line, they see a nerdy guy with a camera trying to snap some shots. The bouncer gets extremely angry at him for no real reason and basically slams him into the wall and back in line. Though concerned, the girls ignore it because they make it to the front of the line. It turns out that Bess is some type of “host,” which means that she wears a skimpy mermaid outfit and lounges around on a fake boulder.
Bess tells them that the nerdy guy is Tom, some rando who keeps following her around and taking picture. True to form, he pops up to take some shots of her. While dancing, Nancy hears a scream that suspiciously sounds like Bess and finds her friend missing. She finds a fire door nearby propped open with a nonworking alarm and one of Bess's hair decorations on the ground.
Lonnie, the owner of the club, is quite concerned. He tells them all about Charity, the woman who previously held Bess's job and lets them into the dressing room. All they find is a flier for some underground show. Lonnie mopes about how these parties might kill his club. Kids show up, make a mess, and the hosts walk off with money and leave the “property” they borrowed completely destroyed.
Nancy and Bess go to the show and find Charity, but they unfortunately also find her boyfriend Gaetan. He's a complete dick and makes them feel like shit for even questioning him, but Charity seems upset that Bess went missing. Etienne, the DJ from the dance club, also shows up, which makes Charity and her guy take off. Etienne tells them that he and Gaetan planned on opening a club together but that the other guy took his investment and keeps ignoring him. Nancy finds it suspicious that despite the cold, Etienne doesn't wear a coat.
To investigate Tom, they go to the quarry where his dad works because he apparently works for his dad. Tom is shocked that Bess went missing and shows them to his darkroom, which is conveniently on-site. Nancy finds it weird that he has so many pictures of Bess and notices that some were taken months ago. Creeeeepppppyyy. He offers to give them a tour, walks off because he hears someone calling him, and the girls almost get crushed by falling boulders. His dad luckily saves them and sends them home while yelling at Tom for being so irresponsible.
In the hopes of tracking down Charity, Nancy looks her up in the phone book, how quaint. Though Charity wears all black, has eight piercings in one ear, and acts like a total rebel, she's actually from the rich side of the tracks. Her dad explains that they had a fight over her boyfriend, Charity ran off, and they haven't heard from her since. Her mom is so upset that she can't get out of bed, and her dad begs them to call if they hear anything.
While heading over to talk to Bess's parents, they randomly stumble upon a tied up Bess. She can't remember a lot except that the guy had a tattoo of a green eagle on one arm, which means he wore short sleeves. The cops come and take statements before leaving. Bess's mom makes a huge dinner and asks the girls if they can stay the night to keep Bess safe.
That turns out to be a good idea because someone tries to break into her room that very night. Though he gets away, he does leave shoe impressions behind, which Nancy deduces are a size 13. They head over to Etienne's apartment to check on him and ask him some questions but instead find his strangled body on the ground. Guess who has a tattoo of a green phoenix on his arm? One cop says it's a common tattoo on soldiers in Europe. Upon being questioned, Bess says that perfectly matches the tattoo she saw. We now have a kidnapper but no one else.
Nancy heads to see Charity. Though she's upset that Etienne is dead, Gaetan doesn't seem that surprised. He's more concerned over his immigration status and what this will do to him. He's the cops number one suspect and instead of talking to them, he ran when they showed up at his apartment. Charity isn't happy that her parents are worried but absolutely refuses to do anything without Gaetan and won't come home unless they change their minds about him. Oh yeah, this sounds like a healthy relationship. Nancy passes along her dad's card and warns Gaetan that he really needs a lawyer.
Nancy arranges for the cops to pick up Gaeten, which makes everyone think things are fine. Bess even makes plans to go to the Halloween party at the club, but Nancy makes her switch costumes with her. She finds out from the police that someone dosed Etienne with ether before killing him and that someone dosed Bess with the same thing. Though she tries to talk to Tom, he refuses to speak with her except to let it slip that he knows Etienne died, which is apparently not public knowledge.
To make things worse, a random car keeps following them. Nancy realizes that it's Lucas, the scary bouncer from the club. Lonnie says that Lucas wouldn't hurt a fly but does agree to talk to him. Nancy lies to protect Bess and says her best friend is skipping the party. Her detective friends pulls a report on Lucas and finds that he's a bad guy complete with a record for assault with a deadly weapon. He warns her to be careful, but she and George go to the party anyway.
While at the party, she finds a foreclosure notice from the bank for the club. Then, while looking for Lonnie in a back room, a valve explodes and nearly blows her face off before Lonnie saves her. He tells her it's a common problem he thought he fixed, which Bess backs up because she saw him working on it. Charity is also there to whine about her boyfriend some more, and Bess has it out with Tom after she hears that he's been telling people they're dating. Nancy tries to follow him when he runs away but loses him in traffic.
The girls then decide to hide out in the dressing rooms and try to find out what's happening. Lonnie and Lucas are nice enough to discuss their whole plan, which involves setting up the plumbing system to explode, collecting the insurance money, and splitting it in half. Etienne was once in on their plan too. They split up, but someone whacks Nancy over the back of the head and knocks her out. Hm, that sounds familiar.
She comes to with Bess and George locked in the dressing room with her. Lonnie confesses that they killed Etienne, who was behind the kidnapping, and went after Bess because she saw them in the pumping room once and they thought she figured everything out. He leaves them trapped in the dressing room with 30 minutes left behind the building explodes.
Luckily, George has her pocketknife, which they use to break through their bonds. They get outside and down the alley just as the building explodes. Nancy goes after Lonnie and actually finds him, but he has a gun that he turns on her. Since she's Nancy Drew, she hits him in the head with a telephone and then knocks him out with a kick to the face. The cops show up to arrest him, having already captured Lucas.
Charity and Gaetan come to see Nancy a few days later. They made up with her parents and agreed to put off getting married for a few years. Carson plans on helping Gaetan with his immigration plans so he can stay in the country. Oh and Gaetan is apparently a musician and already lined up a ton of work. Charity has to be all smug like as she claims that her future looks better than ever before.
*My copy says that it's a special collectors edition, though I don't know why. The only thing different about is it that is has gold on the title.
*Yeah, so the bouncer in the very beginning was way out of line. There was no reason for him to basically body slam a guy for taking a picture.
*Nancy describes Etienne as wearing an orchid color shirt. While I assume that's a shade of purple, it's just random because my local grocery store, of all places, sells like four different colors of orchids now.
*Nancy must not be that great of a detective because when she finds Bess, she immediately unties her and messes up all the evidence.
*So Bess is all discouraged at dinner and makes a comment about how she can focus on her diet tomorrow because kidnapping is a good excuse to eat. Nancy and George just laugh it off, but it kind of made me feel bad for Bess.
*I kind of, no I really hate, the Charity and Gaetan story line. She's an 18 year old girl who wants to marry some random guy she's known for a few weeks and is totally in love with, oh and the guy's a musician. She acts like everyone is against her one true love, but I want to smack her for being a stupid teen girl. It's also kind of BS that not only is he here illegally, but he somehow manages to keep finding work? I'm not trying to be political or anything, I think it's just a shitty B-plot.
*Tom apologizes to Bess in the end, and she says he's not such a bad guy. I am really glad it didn't end with her agreeing to go on a date with him. He's literally been taking photos of her for six or eight months now, keeps sneaking around her all the time, and tells all these random people she's his girlfriend. She should be calling the cops, not talking to him on the phone!