When the eerie performances of a life-size puppet begin to haunt the old Van Pelt estate, where an amateur acting group – The Footlighters – have their theater, Nancy Drew is called upon to unravel the baffling mystery. From the moment the detective and her friends Bess and George arrive at the mansion, the dancing puppet puzzle is further complicated by Tammi Whitlock, the Footlighters' temperamental leading lady, and Emmet Calhoun, a Shakespearean actor. Nancy's search of the mansion's dark, musty attic for clues to the weird mystery starts a frightening chain reaction. A phone call from a stranger with a witchlike, cackling voice warns her to "Get out!" Next an encounter with two jewel theft suspects adds another perplexing angle to the puzzle. When Nancy finally sees the life-size puppet flitting across the moonlit lawn and chases it, she learns that someone with a sinister motive is determined to keep her form solving the case. Is it one of the Footlighters? Or is it an outsider?