Yay! My first blogged international mystery!
We open with Mr. Drew receiving a package. A mysterious package. There is no name or return address on the package, but it was posted from Turkey. It contains a prayer rug. Mr. Drew assumes its probably from Farouk Tahmasp, a former client and tailor shop owner. Mr. Tahmasp was falsely accused of smuggling rugs (not smuggling rugs!! OHNO!). His name was cleared, but he fled to Turkey before he was told of the sentence. Nancy thinks a message could be hidden in the rug because she "heard that years ago in Turkey, messages were hidden in rugs." Of course she did.
While Nancy unravels (no pun intended) the message in the rug, a Turkish man stalks her. One night, he tries to steal the rug, but Nancy comes down and pulls it away from him. Then he hides a scimitar in the rug (while the Drews and Hannah are away). Nancy rolls out the rug, and gosh darn, she must have unrolled it really violently. The scimitar almost stabs her. This little incident doesn't phase Nancy, though, and the scimitar-free rug is deciphered.
The message says to bring a certain mannequin to Istanbul. The mannequin, one sitting in Farouk's old tailor shop, is gone, though. Nancy remembers it from childhood; she laughs that she once thought it winked at her. Nancy gets clues from a crazy old man who loiters in the tailor shop (under new ownership). "Haw-Haw" shows her the slippers that were once on the mannequin. But..the soles are worn! Nancy surmises that the mannequin must have been dragged across the floor to storage, but a woman in a nearby apartment talks about the mannequin, saying it is strange that it wasn't in the window all the time. Hmm.
Nancy, Bess, and George go about searching for clues from this place to that person, until their adventures take them to the Turkish/Greek district, where they eat at a Greek restaurant and have grape leaves stuffed with meat (YUM). Nancy asks the owner questions about various people connected with the mystery. A man whom is dining nearby gets angry and drives the owner away. The girls get free yogurt and Greek bread as a sort of apology from the owner.
One day, they see the same man who tried to steal the rug showing a letter to a dark-haired, possibly Turkish woman. She cries and runs off. When the girls chase the man, he drops his wallet to distract them, but they keep going. All for naught--the man gets away. There is no ID in the wallet, but there's the letter, saying Farouk's dead. Nancy thinks that the message is fake and deceiving and that it was given to the dark-haired woman for a reason. (ya think?)
Nancy tracks down the young woman. Her name is Aisha Hatun, and Nancy learns that she and the mysterious man, now known as Arik, don't get along. Arik wants to date her; but she doesn't want to date him. She loves Farouk!
Arik was under suspicion at first, but is found to be innocent of the rug stealing/scrimitar crime. He has a doppelganger--his cousin.
Nancy finds discount fares to Turkey and believes that she can find out more in Turkey, and possible find Farouk! He can tell her where the mannequin is and so he can have it shipped to Turkey. What's this? Bess and George get permission to go, along with Ned, Burt and Dave! Guess Emerson has generous semesters. Aisha goes too, hoping to find Farouk.
Adventure abounds. Bess wanders from the gang to buy perfume. Then a boy tricks her, saying her friends are looking for her, but he locks her up. Gullible Bess, after some 47 books, haven't you learned!? The boy is Arik's cousin's brother. Aslanapa, Arik's cousin, delivers an ultimatum: tell about the mannequin, or Bess goes bye-bye! But all by themselves, the crew finds Bess and has Aslanapa arrested!
Nancy, George, Bess, Ned, Dave, and Burt (oy!) goe to the place indicated in the rug, a big ancient cistern. Aslanapa's brother, angry about his brother's arrest, is back. He pushes Nancy into the cistern. The boys save Nancy and have Aslanpa taken away. Nancy insists that she's okay and continues to tour the cistern with the crew. Then a handsome young Turkish man walks in. IT'S...Farouk! There's a big dinner, praise for Nancy, obligatory praise for the others. It's told that Aisha used to be the "mannequin" for some reason. Surprise. Not.
- Helen Corning/Archer appears. The girls meet her for tennis, and Helen thinks she knows where the mannequin is, but it flunks out, of course.
- At a restaurant located by a scenic water wheel, a boy falls in the water, Nancy jumps in and saves him. George helps her; however, Nancy gets ALL the praise.
- I love this part: Nancy is reading aloud from the rug part of the message: "I love..." Ned walks in, saying "Me? That's great!" :D The message continues to read "...her" "Carson, please bring mannequin. I love her."