Nancy Drew #74

The Mysterious Image

Blurb from the back of the book cover: A famous advertising photographer calls on Nancy and her father, Carson Drew, to help him after he is accused of pirating his colleagues’ work. When a young actress known to have worked with Nancy’s client disappears just as she’s about to land a starring role in a new Broadway play, Nancy knows she’s dealing with ruthless and devious criminals. The police turn to Nancy for help in finding the missing woman. Some video cassettes, sent anonymously through the mail, may hold a vital clue. But before Nancy can unravel the mystery, a friend of the missing actress is lured into a terrifying trap and Nancy must face one of her most unnerving confrontations.

Basic Plot:  2 stories:  missing actress Clare Grant - her friend Pamela says she has been receiving threats, photographer Dallas Curry accused of copying ads.

You may also click here for a synopsis of this story by Todd Latoski, from the online Nancy Drew fanzine, The Sleuth.


River Heights, various side trips to NYC

Recurring Characters

Carson Drew, Hannah Gruen, Chief McGinnis, Ned Nickerson, Bess Marvin, George Fayne, Miss Hanson

Characters and Suspects

  • Dallas Curry – photographer, client of CD
  • Clare Grant – Broadway actress
  • Pamela Kane - Clare’s friend (fluffy blonde, pixie glasses)
  • Mr. & Mrs. Fyfe – owners of home where Clare was staying
  • Mrs. Barrow – Fyfe cook & housekeeper
  • Detective Hoyt - RHPD
  • Gas station attendant – cheerful
  • Marcy Keech – tabloid reporter, freelance journalism student

  • Mr Knapp - executive VP at Darby & Wallace ad agency
  • Rick Hyatt - photographer at Darby & Wallace ad agency
  • Ted Yates - account exec at Stratton ad agency
  • John Stratton - president of Stratton ad agency
  • Takashi - Dallas’s white coated Japanese houseman
  • Dr Hugh Jaffee - psychology professor Ashton University
  • Barry Coe - Broadway producer
  • Sylvia Salmo - dancer, Pamela’s roommate
  • Eli Jaxon - Murdo Chemical company owner
  • Pete Dornek - videotape specialist
  • Duane Weiss - casting director of musical Moonglow


  • Oliver Snell - art director Marc Joplin Inc. ad agency
  • Roscoe Leff - copywriter at Darby & Wallace ad agency
  • unnamed hoodlum

motivation:  revenge against Dallas who recommended another agency for the Murdo Chemical account.  While on a date with Clare Oliver had seen Dallas’s Statue of Liberty campaign - he stole the idea and got it published first, making it appear that Dallas had been the idea thief.  He was also able subliminally plant images from other ad campaigns into a video he sent to Dallas.


Clare never really disappeared - she just posed as fictitious friend Pamela - wanted to expose advertising thefts and cause publicity for herself. by being “kidnapped”  At tower in Westchester Cty find Oliver struggling with Pamela - Nancy knocks out Oliver with flashlight


receives threatening note
broken matchstick jammed into tire valve, causing flat tire
cherry bomb firecracker explodes in her car
nearly runs over Ned
hauls George up after she falls off dilapidated bridge

Key clues
torn photograph of Clare posing as statue of Liberty
video tape of rock music
ATV tracks leading to an abandoned quarry
stolen service-station truck
caricature of Clare at Lilly’s Restaurant in NYC
Nancy's talents quotes Edgar Allan Poe’s The Purloined Letter (hiding in plain sight)

Hannah cooks

poached egg, OJ
mashed potatoes and roast-beef gravy

Bess Shops

at Bonnington’s department store
window shopping on Fifth Avenue

Red herrings
Clare orchestrates her own disappearance to make press for herself.  Plants a can of ether to support kidnapping narrative

Meaning of the title

the subliminal messages?

lessons learned   

subliminal perception -  images creating “idea transference”

items of interest

George’s odd jobs: lighting technician for rock concert at Riverview College
RHts restaurants: Fisherman’s Net, Chan’s (Chinese)


Below is a gallery of all the covers I have found for The Mysterious Image. Below each picture is the artist's name, and a brief description of the scene depicted.

Wanderer "Arch" cover by Hector Garrido: pp16-20 - searching the woods behind the Fyfe house.  Should be Det Hoyt, Pamela and Nancy finding a photo from Clare’s Statue of Liberty shoot torn up on the ground - not sure who the ominous shadow is supposed to represent

Minstrel cover by Bob Berran: page 39 Rick snapping Nancy’s picture as she emerges from lunch with Carson and Dallas

Minstrel cover by Linda Thomas: p 149 reviewing the video tape with Pete where he isolates frames with subliminal messages mixed into the rock video footage

Armada (UK) cover by unknown artist: p 121 - cherry bomb explodes when Nancy opens car door (described as Nancy unlocks the passenger door for Bess then leans over to unlock the driver’s door from the inside)

Wahlströms (Swedish) cover by Hector Garrido Tammi (Finnish) cover by Hector Garrido
Indira (Indonesian) cover by Hector Garrido


This chronological listing of printings mimics the identification system developed by David Farah for his guide on Nancy Drew. He has given me permission to replicate his system for the purpose of categorizing the paperbacks from this series. For those of you not familiar with his methods for identifying a printing, the first line describes the outside of the book (cover/spine/back cover) and the second line describes the internal pages (inside cover/pre-text pages/post-text pages/inside back cover).

Published: 1984
authors: James Lawrence

Garrido/W1/blue on green/2.95,49737-5,+   
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad/ND#57-74 ao of/bl/bl

1st (General Publishing Co Ltd)
Garrido/W1/blue on green/GPC,49737-5,+   
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//Fan ad/ND#57-74 ao of/bl/bl
Garrido/W1/blue on green/2.95,49737-5,+  
bl/pwt/bl/tp+/cp/tc/bl//ND#57-75 ao of/bl/bl

Garrido/W1/blue on green/3.50,49737-5,+  
Fan ad/ND#57-78 ao of//HB#59-85 ao of/NQH#1/bl

Garrido/W1/blue on green/3.50,49737-5,+  

1st Minstrel
Berran/M1/two toned yellow, 350/pic, 64284-7   
bl/exc/ND#57-79/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/tp//bl/ND#57-79 ao of/HB#59-86 ao of/NDF#1-16 of/SS#1-3/ECo (8) of/FBr#1-3 of/bl

2nd Minstrel
Thomas/M1/pink-red, 350/pic, 69401-4   
bl UPC/exc/ND#57-93,g/tp/cp+/tc/bl/pwt/bl//ND#57-93, g1 of/HB#59-100, g of/NewBT#1-16 of/BF#1-7 of/RHts#1-4 of/Min (18)/Min (18) of/bl



Foreign Title

Title's translation


Kitty och videomysteriet

Nancy and the video mystery


Neiti etsivä ja valokuvan arvoitus

Nancy and the puzzle of the photograph

Kesan Misterius
Mysterious impression

The Mysterious Image
, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1984 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Mysterious Image, artwork by Bob Berran © 1987 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Mysterious Image,, artwork by Linda Thomas © 1990 by Simon & Schuster, New York.
The Mysterious Image,, artwork unattributed © 1985 by Fontana Paperbacks, London.
Kitty och videomysteriet, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1984 by Simon & Schuster, New York.

Kesan Misterius, artwork by Hector Garrido © 1984 by Simon & Schuster, New York.


© 2002, 2016 Lea Shangraw Fox