Wesley Camden drinks too much, has a bad case of writer's block. The afterglow from his top-ten novel on the Rockports of Garden Bay is rapidly fading. His malaise changes when he meets eleven-year old Jennie Jenkins. Jennie and her dad, Lenny, are recent arrivals to Garden Bay. Wes wants them to experience the wonders and vistas of Puget Sound but instead he is plunged into intrigue and murder.
James Rockport, a hopeless alcoholic, has died. His only son, Donny, stands to inherit the Rockport fortune and can't wait to assume control of the business. Donny has numerous enemies: Sam Brown, C.P.A., who managed the business for James; Bill Turner, attorney for the Rockports; Walter Flannigan whose son, Ben is serving time in federal prison for violent strike activities against Donny when he took over and ruined the one business his father let him manage; and many others whose lives were wrecked by the union strike.
But Donny's plans are seriously threatened. Lenny Jenkins claims to be James' illegitimate son not mentioned in his will and entitled to one-half of the family fortune. Wes is hired to travel to Montana to investigate Lenny's claims; then learns that James was murdered. Wes' investigation is intertwined with the rediscovery of a childhood sweetheart, Constance Dubois, and her world of wealthy Garden Bay art patrons, art and artists, including Eleanor Harper Rockport, Donny's estranged mother. Wes begins to feel he has a chance at a normal life with Connie.
Wes confirms that Lenny is entitled to one-half of the fortune but finds him dead on his return. Then Eleanor Rockport is murdered. Donny is the obvious suspect, but then he is found dead. Jennie is now the sole heir, but after one more murder everyone is stymied. Wes discovers the answer lies in the tangled web of wills and estates, but realizes he has left Jennie with the murderer. All that is left is a rush across Puget Sound in a speedboat to try to save Jennie and catch a murderer.