Nancy and George are a little worried after Bess goes to Carmel, California with her parents for vacation and then doesn't come back with them. Bess calls, acts a little suspicious, and begs them to come out and see her. She agrees to pick them up from the airport and let them stay in the same bed and breakfast as her. They arrive, find no sign of Bess, and wind up renting a car to get into town.
The Mendez family who own the B&B are super sweet and suggest they might find her working in their cafe downtown. While on the way there, they see a jewelry store and see a large and angry man yelling at someone else. They finally find Bess, who as it turns out, recently got a job in the cafe as a pastry chef. I know, right? Apparently, Bess took classes from an award winning chef in the past. The cafe needed help, she agreed to help out a little, and her dishes became so popular that people just kept coming back.
She introduces them to Ted, the son of the owners. Though he's handsome, he's also a HUGE jackass. He keeps whining about Bess rushing off to spend time with her friends instead of him and complaining about what will happen if she leaves for five seconds. The man they saw yelling pops up, and to no one's surprise, he's best friends with Ted. Len, the yelling man, introduces them to his fiance Marcia who runs the jewelry store.
It turns out that Bess invited them to town because of a mystery. Marcia got a job designing a necklace for movie star Joanna Burton. The woman had an old necklace and wanted her diamonds put in a new setting. Marcia did the job, everyone was seemingly happy, and then Joanna accused her of replacing the diamonds with fake stones. There were marks on the new necklace that proves someone took out the real stones. Nancy agrees to look into things but isn't too happy because Len scares the crap out of her.
The other reason Bess asked them to come out is because she's giving serious thought to moving there permanently. Even though she'll miss River Heights and her besties, she likes the idea of starting over on her own and being a real pastry chef. Ted seems less enthused when they aren't as happy with her plans and keeps whining about how they planned to meet his parents for dinner. Nancy tries to do some sleuthing, but Bess is too worried about how Ted is waiting for them. When they finally get there, he throws a massive hissy fit over them being literally five minutes late.
Nancy heads into town and meets Cy, who becomes suspect number one. He owns the leading jewelry design studio in town and once employed Marcia before a falling out that led to her opening her own shop. He has a unique cuckoo clock in his shop that Nancy likes and an assistant named Rachel who seems overly nervous. The clock is important because Nancy later gets a threatening letter with a similar clock smashed in the box.
In the hopes of getting to the bottom of things, she calls Joanna and schedules an appointment to see her the next day. After getting there and finding the house empty, she heads outside and sees the poor woman dead on the beach, after apparently falling down the stairs. Her agent Stephanie shows up as well as Morgan, the head of her neighborhood's private security firm. To make things worse, someone in a white man with a stylized drawing on the side tries to run her and George off the road. That same drawing matches the logo of Len's new company.
The cops come and take in Marcia for questioning despite not having any evidence. Nancy confronts Len to see if he drove them off the road, which he denies. Marcia comes back just in time to tell them that she was with Len that morning. He had a falling out with Burton over some landscaping he did for her and had a job that morning with her neighbor. Marcia followed him to make sure he didn't do anything stupid.
Nancy heads back to Cy's shop with some questions and instead finds his assistant acting shifty. Rachel has an autographed photo of some movie star on her work bench, which she acts embarrassed about and hides away. Stephanie pops up to ask Nancy about selling some of her stories to Hollywood. She later comes back with Morgan, who is her newest client
When Nancy gets a secret message asking her to meet someone on the beach for more information, she does. That person arranges for a boulder to almost fall on her, which leads to her spraining her ankle trying to get away.
Ted then gets upset that Bess dares to take time away from the cafe to help her friend. She and George stay with Nancy that night and try to watch a movie Burton made where she stole some diamonds until poor Nancy crashes on her pain pills. Bess makes desserts for the next day and makes Ted promise to put everything away, but he calls her the next day to claim that he forgot, the pastries were ruined, and she needs to come back right away and make something new.
After watching the rest of the movie, Nancy puts all the pieces together. She leaves a note for the girls and heads back to Burton's house. That's where she finds that Burton did the exact same thing she did in the movie: she stole the diamonds, put them in the ice tray, filled it with water, and hid it in the freezer. Unfortunately, Morgan and Stephanie were in on the whole thing but couldn't find the diamonds. Burton hadn't worked in years and could only get her big comeback job if she financed the film. Stephanie wanted her to sell the necklace, but she couldn't because her dead husband gave it to her.
Stephanie then convinced her to steal the diamonds and use the insurance money to finance the film. They planned on framing Rachel, and Morgan hid evidence in her apartment. Rachel previously worked on a film with the actor she had the picture of, but stole a prop ring because she thought it was cool. It was a real antique worth a lot of money. Stephanie caught her and instead of helping her like she promised, turned her in and had her fired.
Nancy accidentally reveals the hiding spot for the diamonds, so Morgan knocks her out. She wakes up on a rock about to be crushed by a wave, but she gets her hands free and rushes off the rock to find Bess and George looking for her. They got concerned after they saw her note but couldn't find her. Nancy takes them back to the house, where Stephanie and Morgan are stunned to find her still alive, tells the cops everything, and watches as they get arrested before she goes back to the hospital.
In the end, Bess decides that there really is no place like home. She takes Ted out for a walk and comes back to tell the girls that she's not staying. He's just a little too jealous and possessive for her tastes. They all hug and cry. Bess reveals that she might try baking back home because it was nice for someone to tell her that she matters. Nancy cries again and tells her that she really is the greatest. Aw, I kind of liked that ending!
*I guess this was back before rental car companies stopped renting to drivers under the age of 25?
*Joanna Burton lives in a fancy gated community, which is totally normal, but you don't need to be on a list to get inside. The guard just charges you a small fee for a pass, which seems dangerous and not at all safe.
*There is literally no resolution regarding the person who tried to drive them off the road. They say it wasn't Len, but they don't tell us who actually did it.
*Nancy would make an awesome Netflix series! I'd love to see them do some of the classic stories and some of the more modern ones. The Emma Roberts movie, which I just watched for the first time last week, was cute but a little too young.
*Ted is such an ass! He literally spends the whole book trying to keep Bess away from her friends because he's worried that they'll try to change her mind and make her leave. He sabotages her work so she'll stay, and he completely ignores Nancy and George whenever possible. Oh yeah, he sounds like a real winner.