Nancy, Ned, Bess, and Bess's new boyfriend Parker are off to Maryland for a few days. Parker's cousin Andy owns a boat design company and invited them to help him and his partner in an upcoming regatta. Even though Bess knows nothing about sailing, Ned and Nancy went sailing before. I'm assuming that's because the two of them have done absolutely everything there is to do in the world.
Andy takes them to his house, which looks like a plantation house from Gone with the Wind, and shows them where they can stay. At a party that night, they meet his partner Nick and Nick's wife Annabel. Nick is a huge flirt who can't keep his eyes off other woman, and Annabel is a huge bitch. I say that because she spends the whole night draped all over Andy, refuses to give him time alone with his friends, constantly talks smack about her husband, and practically hisses when another woman comes near Andy.
The next day, they learn that Nick took his boat out and never came back. They sail off and find the boat abandoned at sea. There is, however, a bullet hole on the boat and a trail of blood leading over one side. Annabel seems almost happy at the idea of her husband being dead. She even tells them not to bother calling the police, which makes her suspect number one.
It doesn't take long before Andy becomes a suspect too. It has a lot to do with the fact that he immediately spends all his time with Annabel. It turns out that they once dated, but she dumped him for Nick and married the other guy a few months after meeting him. When they had problems in their marriage, Andy came around to “comfort” her. Yeah, I don't like this guy.
More circumstantial evidence turns up. Employees at the design shop heard the two men fighting over money, there is a bunch of money missing, and Andy claims he has no idea about anything. The cops find a bullet casing on the boat that matches the gun Andy has but never told anyone about. Luckily, he has a rich family or his ass would be in jail.
While checking out the boat shop, Nancy finds a man sneaking around. He knocks her down and punches out Ned before running off, but Parker actually catches him. His name is Stan, and he's a PI hired by the company's insurer. It turns out that Nick filed two claims on missing boats in the last year. He hired Leah and Mick, a married couple, to deliver boats to clients. One was lost at sea. The second boat was also lost, but the Coast Guard found Leah in a raft on the ocean. She claimed pirates attacked and killed her money. Despite paying out $600,000, there is no proof the company ever got a dime.
The gang heads to Leah's house and sees her sneaking out. She meets up with a man with long hair, gets all handsy, and then disappears into a bar with him. Nancy later sees her when they go out to dinner, but she gets distracted by the waitress. The waitress wants to talk about the resident homeless man, Old Bill, and how no one seems to care that he went missing. Annabel keeps trying to change the subject and tells Nancy that she needs to mind her own business and shut the hell up about mysteries already. See? I hate her.
While walking home that night, someone pushes Nancy off the pier and into the water. Ned dives in to save her and drags her onto another boat so they can get back on the pier. Annabel basically rolls her eyes about how Nancy clearly needs to be the center of attention all the time and whines to Andy about how they'll never get back at this pace. Yes, because someone almost drowning is so totally inconvenient.
Stan comes through with some big information. He finds that the boat company kept paying out large sums of money to a lumber company, way more than it should. All the checks have Andy's signature on them. The evidence against Andy keeps mounting, but Nancy decides that somebody must be framing him because there's no way he would be dumb enough to leave behind such a trail.
The PI also finds a link between the boat company and a guy named Bill. Bill seemingly lived a normal life for 30 years, then stopped using his social security number, and then stopped using it a few years ago. Nancy realizes that someone stole Old Bill's identity and sneaks into Leah's house. She finds a passport in Bill's name with Nick's picture on it and tickets out of town. Leah comes home and makes a phone call, telling the person on the other end that they need to leave town now.
Nancy and the gang follow her car but lose her in the crowd. After literally accidentally stumbling across Old Bill's body, they get to the marina in time to see Nick and Leah on a boat. Annabel gets them on her own boat and tries to follow them but loses them on the water. Nick actually circles back around though, just so he can tell them all about his evil plot. He seriously does that, but it's something like he wants to get rid of them in case they have any real evidence.
Nick's evil plot involved stealing a ton of money from the company because he knew it would fail. He then stole Old Bill's identity and waited for him to die of natural causes before completely taking over his identity. Leah and her husband helped him on the insurance scam, but they then fell in love and killed her husband. While he talks, Andy sneaks through the dark and literally throws himself at Nick. They get the boats back to the marina and to the waiting cops.
Andy is a little bummed about losing his company, but wait, there's more! Annabel agrees to use her family money to become his new partner and help him come up with a brand new design. As they look at each other with love in their eyes, Nancy thinks that Annabel might not be so bad after all. Nope, she's worse.
*Annabel is seriously awful! Here's an idea: maybe you don't marry someone you've known for like two months and then run back to your ex-boyfriend when things get rough.
*Andy is just as bad. This chick dumps you for your rich friend, things don't work out, she comes back to you, and you just welcome her with open arms. Grow a pair!
*Not only does Nancy NOT cheat on Ned in this book, but she also gets through the whole thing without getting knocked over the head. I'm so proud of her!
*Parker and Bess are actually kind of cute together. I miss the old, old books where all three girls had serious guys. It's kind of irritating to see all of them, but Bess especially, fall for someone new all the time.
*Nancy puts Stan on her suspect list, not because she has any evidence, but because it takes him a few hours to return her calls. She seriously asks him to run a search in the morning and then suspects him when he hasn't responded to her by the early afternoon. Does she know how long it takes to actually run a credit check or something like that?
*She could probably learn a thing or two from him though. Stan is...not afraid to break or bend the law. He gets his “friends” to run Andy's credit, which is totally legal, but then they do all this other stuff to research the company and its finances, which are totally not above board.