~Cover image courtesy Nancy Drew Sleuth~
Nancy and a former classmate (conveniently drifting by, never to be seen again) whom she hasn't seen since high school, are standing in front of a mirror. Both are admiring a sheepskin jacket, that "Junie Flockhart" is wearing. Junie talks about the her father's slaughterhouse\ sheepskin\ parchment business, more or less hinting at a mystery. Her father recently bought a parchment with intriguing pictures painted with some intriguing. Soon after, a stranger called him, telling him that a message was on the parchment. If it was decoded, someone could "right a great wrong."
Junie and Nancy arrive at Triple Lake Farm. Bess and George as well--as Ned, Burt and Dave (of course)--tag along. Junies's BF, Dan, will also join the happy flock (pun intended) soon. Nancy's first stop is to see the parchment. It shows four pictures: a sad woman, a man with his back turned, a baby boy, and a sailboat colliding with a steamer. Okay...I had that part of the story figured out in two minutes. Anyway, Nancy and Junie visit the farm and operations, incl. the parchment factory and slaughterhouse (cheerful). They go to visit a shepherd that Junie is friends with, but find him knocked out on hill where he tends sheep. When "Eezy" is revived, he clams up about the incident, fearing the girls might get hurt. Eventually he says merely that two guys tried to get him to agree to something he felt was wrong. Eezy is a one of the rarely unique characters in the late books. He applies Bible quotes to various events and makes some fairly funny jokes.
Nancy continues to study the parchment. She even takes it out of the frame, and on the back are a few initials. Furious thinking begins! Nancy and Junie go to question the parchment's former owner, Mr. Rocco, Mr. Flockhart's best customer and neighbor. Nancy already met him once; he was very rude (read: automatic criminal)! The girls go to the gate of his house, which crests his vegetable farm. They know he's home, but there is no answer over the intercom. Nancy spazzes over how totally rude that is, then she and Junie climbs over the fence! Her reason being: because he is so rude and they need to see him for such an important reason, trespassing is ok. Double standards, Nan? Wrong is wrong. Crud for them, they are apprehended by two tough-looking men who "scold" them for trespassing. Nancy and Junie act offended. They had a right to trespass!
Nancy and Junie eventually get an appointment with Mr. Rocco to get some 'information'. Mr. Rocco is rude and (rightfully) mad about the trespassing. Nancy is "fakely" sorry so that she can get what she wants. They don't find out much, but do make Mr. Rocco suspicious. Good going, Nan.
Nan and Junie sneak around Rocco's farm to interview his workers, but the workers only speak Italian. They think a young boy, who draws beautiful pictures, might speak English, but he doesn't.
When this boy, 'Tony' (his name is conveniently on his sweater) sees Mr. Rocco in the distance, he gets back to hoeing frantically. Later, Nancy thinks 'Tony' might be the baby depicted on the parchment. Her reasoning? A is written on the back of the baby's picture and Tony is usually short for Anthony. It couldn't be Albery of Adam or whatever, now could it, or the mystery wouldn't go anywhere. :-p
Junie's boyfriend, Dan can talks to Tony, as he takes Italian in college. Tony says that Mr. Rocco is his is his uncle, but makes him work all the time.
Yawn. So various crazy things which I consider fillers happen. Nothing really important until the parchment is stolen! Nancy tries to keep the parchment from being stolen, but the parchment is dropped, the frame glass breaks, and the thief snatches the whole mess and runs. Nancy and Junie go out the next day to visit various shops to find out if someone bought glass that fits the frame. Yes, someone did! Then they inquire at a drug store see if a man bought bandages (because the thief probably cut his hands on the glass). Hole-in-one again! How lucky is Nancy, who just happens to stroll in the exact store where the bandages were purchased from!
The thief is caught! She speaks kindly to him in his cell, preaching on the wrongs of stealing. He says he's a hit man for other hit men for Mr. Rocco, but now realizes he was wrong, and thinks being in jail might be good for him. Nancy is really pleased with herself, and Junie praises her.
Fearing Tony might be in danger from Mr. Rocco, Nancy hides him with the shepherd, Eezy. To stave off claims of a crime, aka kidnapping, Tony writes a letter to Mr. Rocco, assuring him that he's fine (and he is happy), but he'll go to the police if his uncle doesn't shape up.
Then they find out that "Diana Bolardo" is coming from Italy, claiming she's Tony's mother. An Italian artist who saw the initials on the parchment, DB, said that he knew of three people with the initials DB in Rome and that that could be a lead (never mind the parchment was marked 'Milano, not Rome). This is so far-fetched I have to gag! }8-o Surprise! Diana B. looks like Tony!
Mrs. B tells of an estate left by her husband, killed in a sailing accident (sur-f*cking-prise!). Her husband's executor, his brother--Mr. Rocco!--wanted her to marry him, but she wouldn't. So Mr. Rocco stole his nephew and went to America in revenge.
Nancy and takes Mrs. B to see her son. They find Tony and Eezy bound & gagged on the hill, and then they are tied up. After the hit men leave, Nan wiggles over and frees Eezy with the ends of her fingers, and they free the others.
So, the whole gang ends up at the Rocco house. The police have caught Rocco, who is eventually found guilty of the accusations. Then! A mob of workers marches on the Rocco house to make their accusations--he gave them a fake worker's union that does nothing but lose them money--and Mr. Rocco has to go to jail. The workers get their money back, Tony and his "new" mom go to Italy; everything is happy in Nancyworld! Nancy absorbs more praise. The end. Time to go south and solve The Mystery of Crocodile Island.
- "Mr Drew said to Junie with boyish pride, 'I have a few sheepskins of my own...I'll show them to you.'" In Mr. Drew's study are some diplomas from high school, college and law school. Junie praises him for graduating with honors from all three. Now tell me he wasn't just showing the diplomas because of the parchments. xD