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  • The Twisted Window
  • Written by Lois Duncan
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440201847
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The Twisted Window

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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

What does he want with her?



Tracy Lloyd can feel handsome Brad Johnson watching her.  He's not a student at her school. He doesn't even live in Winfield. But Brad has plans for Tracy...

Excerpt

Brad pulled up across the street from the school and hung there with the engine idling, watching a group of younger boys laughing and shoving each other around on the steps of the building. Had there ever been a time when he had been that carefree? As if in answer, a picture flashed into his mind of himself as a ten-year-old, roughhousing with his friend, Jamie, during recess. Taller and stronger than Brad was back in their preteens, it had been Jamie who had taught him to stand up for himself so he wouldn't get picked on. Over the years he'd had some wonderful times with Jamie, but he had never been part of a group the way these boys were.

The kids on the steps eventually began drifting over to the bicycle rack. Brad put the car into gear. There was nothing more he could do until evening, he told himself, so he might as well drive back to the motel and watch some television.

Pulling away from the curb, he shifted into second. That was when he saw her, a little more than half a block ahead of him on the far side of the street. He recognized her instantly, even from the back, by the set of her shoulders and her graceful, long-strided walk. Although he had seen her for the first time only the day before, already she seemed incredibly familiar.

He glanced at his watch and then back at the girl on the sidewalk. It was late for her to be leaving school. He wondered what could have held her there this long. The sight of her at a time when he had not been looking for her made him feel like the recipient of an undeserved present. Without making a conscious decision to follow her, he kept the car in second gear and inched it along, letting the distance widen between them so that if for some reason she turned to look back, she would not notice he was tailing her. She walked two blocks along Third Street and then turned onto Rosemont. When, a few moments later, Brad, too, came opposite the corner, he was startled to find that she had vanished.

Not vanished, he corrected himself. Nobody just vanishes. Maybe she had entered one of the houses on the west side of the street. That didn't seem reasonable, though, since the Stevensons' address had been listed in the phone book as being on South Cotton. A second possibility occurred to him; perhaps she had crossed the street and gone into the park. A gravel path ran diagonally in from the corner, but a row of trees and a screen of flowering bushes cut off his view of the interior, so he could not tell whether or not she had entered.

Once again, acting strictly on impulse, Brad stopped the car, turned off the motor, and got out. He crossed Rosemont and walked down the path until he came to the inner edge of the clump of trees. Standing in a pocket of shadow formed by the leafy branches, he was surprised at the extent of his relief at seeing Tracy some twenty yards ahead of him.

He struggled against the temptation to call out her name. For a moment he actually contemplated doing so. He had intended a slower approach--first a casual phone call, then perhaps a movie date, and, if those went well, the initiation of an in-depth talk during which he would explain to her what had to be done. Much as he hated the idea of wasting time in such a manner, he had been afraid that if he moved too quickly she might refuse him. He had thought he would start the ball rolling by phoning her that evening. Now he found himself wondering if the elaborate preparation was necessary.

While he was trying to decide whether to take advantage of this unexpected opportunity or to stick with his original, more carefully conceived plan, Tracy broke into a run. The suddenness of her flight took Brad by such surprise that he froze where he was and then moved hastily back into the protective covering of the bushes. What in the world had happened? he asked himself. He was not aware of having made a sound. She had not glanced over her shoulder, so there seemed to be no way she could have known he was there. Somehow, though, she had sensed it, and that realization had been enough to send her skittering away like a frightened rabbit.

Brad silently cursed himself for his own stupidity. How could he have been idiotic enough to have let this happen! Now she was all worked up, and by this evening when he made his phone call, she would probably have developed a full-blown case of the jitters. There was no telling what the result of that might be. She might not even be willing to come to the phone.

The one thing he did know for certain was that it was imperative that he get out of her range of vision before she reached the edge of the hedgerow and decided to turn around to look behind her.

Hurrying back along the path to the street, he quickly got into his car and turned the key in the ignition, cringing as the afternoon quiet was broken by the roar of the engine springing to life. There was no way Tracy could have missed hearing that racket, he thought grimly, and it was bound to reinforce her suspicion that she had been followed. He knew her too slightly to be able to predict her reaction. She might panic further at this indication that someone had indeed been spying on her, or she might throw caution to the winds and rush back to investigate.

Either way, he knew he had to get out of the area. Brad threw the car into gear and clamped his foot down hard on the accelerator, glancing apprehensively into the rearview mirror as he did so. He could see no sign of Tracy, but that did not necessarily mean that she would not come popping out from behind the trees at any moment.

With that thought in mind, he drove the first few blocks of Rosemont as though it were the Indianapolis Speedway. Then, reminding himself that the last thing he needed was to get arrested, he slowed to comply with the residential speed limit and drove carefully back to the Trade Winds Motel. Parking in his designated space, he got out of the car, fumbled in his pocket for the key, and let himself into unit twenty-three.
Lois Duncan|Author Q&A

About Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan - The Twisted Window

Photo © Michael Mouchette

“My primary message (I hope) is that reading is fun. Another underlying message, which seems to work its way into many of my books, is the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own actions.”—Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan has received awards from the Mystery Writers of America and was the 1991 recipient of the School Library Journal/Young Adult Library Services Association Margaret K. Edwards Award. Many of her books have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high school years, she wrote regularly for young people’s publications, particularly Seventeen magazine.

“My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about,” Duncan says. “Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability, and responsiveness of that age reader.”

Duncan is best known for her brilliant psychological suspense novels. She was drawn to this genre because those were the books she most enjoyed reading. Of her writing technique, she once said, “Although I’ve been told that some authors start writing with only a general idea in mind and let their stories evolve on their own, I couldn’t work that way. My books are tightly plotted and carefully constructed; every sentence is there for a reason. Personally, I can’t imagine writing a book without knowing exactly how it’s going to end. It would be like setting out on a cross-country trip without a road map.”

Ironically, however, the story closest to Duncan’s heart still doesn’t have an ending. Who Killed My Daughter?, the heart-wrenching account of her search for the truth behind the murder of her 18-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was written in real time as the horror story unfolded. When the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police department dubbed Kait’s death a random shooting, ignoring evidence to the contrary, Duncan launched her own investigation. Her search for the answers took her into the underworld of Vietnamese gangs and led her to seek the help of the nation’s top psychic detectives, who, along with a courageous newspaper reporter, provided information that proved to her that Kait’s death was far from random. Written to motivate informants, the book was featured on such shows as Good Morning, America, Larry King Live, and Unsolved Mysteries. “Tips have come in, but we still need concrete evidence,” says Duncan.

“I continue to believe that we will get it.”

Her next writing project was, by necessity, of a totally different nature. “There was no way I could force myself to create a fictional mystery when our real-life mystery was consuming me,” she says. “For sanity’s sake, I decided that I had to switch channels.” The result was The Circus Comes Home, a book for all ages about life behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Duncan’s hometown was winter quarters for the circus in the 1940s, and her photographer father, Joseph Steinmetz, captured its magic on film. His remarkable photographs of elephants climbing onto the circus train; Emmett Kelly, the clown, in a bubble bath; and the Flying Wallendas teaching their four-year-old to walk the high wire provide stunning illustrations for Duncan’s colorful essay about “a life that was fashioned of sawdust and star dust.”

Duncan’s most popular teenage novels have had to do with psychic phenomena, a subject that she admits she used to consider fantasy. “Today I believe differently,” she says. “My experiences with psychic detectives during Kait’s murder investigation have forced me to change my mind about what is and isn’t possible. I feel a responsibility to let my readers know that ESP, as represented in books of mine such as A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye, is a reality.”

Her nonfiction book, Psychic Connections: A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi, written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D., project director for the Psychical Research Foundation, introduces teenagers to the fascinating world of parapsychology. Based on laboratory research and documented case histories, Psychic Connections addresses such subjects as astral projection, near death experiences, apparitions and hauntings, poltergeists, clairvoyance, telepathy, and practical applications of ESP, such as the use of psychic detectives by law enforcement. Dr. Richard Broughton, Director of Research at the Institute for Parapsychology, calls this book “an engaging introduction to an aspect of human nature that may seem scary and mysterious, but ultimately will yield to scientific understanding.”

PRAISE


GALLOWS HILL

“Duncan delights in building suspense brick by brick until she has a whole creepy wall to collapse at the climax.”—Publishers Weekly

“Entertaining and enlightening, this is a book that should have wide appeal.”—VOYA

“An exciting, suspenseful tale that will certainly be welcomed by Duncan's many fans.”—School Library Journal


PSYCHIC CONNECTIONS
A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi
(written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D.)

“It’s not often you find a book that gives you a solid education in a fascinating field, opens your mind to wider realities, and yet is easy and delightful to read, but Psychic Connections is one of these treasures.”—Charles Tart, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology, University of California, Davis

THE CIRCUS COMES HOME
“A magical glance into the mysterious, exciting world of the circus.”—American Bookseller

“Fresh and magical.”—The Horn BookMagazine

“A fascinating insider’s view of a topic with perennial charm.”—Kirkus Reviews


DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU

“A spellbinding tale of uniquely contemporary horror . . . fast paced and enthralling.”—Starred, School Library Journal

DOWN A DARK HALL
“Highly original . . . a gothic novel that is more a commentary on the dangers of education than of the perils of unrequited love.”—The New York Times Book Review

KILLING MR. GRIFFIN
“Brilliant . . . a powerful study of good and evil.”—Publishers Weekly

LOCKED IN TIME
“Impeccably structured, convincing and harrowing.”—Publishers Weekly

STRANGER WITH MY FACE
“The best of the sinister and supernatural. Spine-chilling.”—The New York Times Book Review

THE THIRD EYE
“Plenty of page-turning suspense. Chalk this up as another of [Duncan’s] winners.”—Booklist

THE TWISTED WINDOW
“Duncan skillfully draws readers into this twisting and suspenseful plot.”—School Library Journal

WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER?
“Master storyteller Lois Duncan has proved that truth can be more heartbreaking, more moving, more terrible than any fiction. No one who reads this account of her search for her daughter’s murderer will ever forget it.”—Tony Hillerman

Author Q&A

Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high-school years, she wrote regularly for young people's publications, particularly Seventeen Magazine.
"My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about," Duncan says. "Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability and responsiveness of that age reader."
Duncan is best known for her brilliant psychological suspense novels. She was drawn to this genre because those were the books he enjoyed reading. Of her writing technique, she once said, "Although I've been told that some authors start writing with only a general idea in mind and let their stories evolve on their own, I couldn't work that way. My books are tightly plotted and carefully constructed; every sentence is there for a reason. Personally, I can't imagine writing a book without knowing exactly how it's going to end. It would be like setting out on a cross-country trip without a road map."
Her next writing project was, by necessity, of a totally different nature. "There was no way I could force myself to create a fictional mystery when our real-life mystery was consuming me," she says. "For sanity's sake, I decided that I had to switch channels." The result was The Circus Comes Home, a book for all ages about life behind the scenes at Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Duncan's home town was winter quarters for the circus in the 1940s, and her photographer father, Joseph Steinmetz, captured its magic on film. His remarkable photographs of elephants climbing onto the circus train, Emmett Kelly, the clown, in a bubble bath, and the Flying Wallendas teaching their four-year-old to walk the high wire provide stunning illustrations for Duncan's colorful essay about "a life that was fashioned of sawdust and star dust."
Duncan's most popular teenage novels have had to do with psychic phenomena, a subject that she admits she used to consider fantasy. "Today I believe differently," she says. "My experiences with psychic detectives during Kait's murder investigation have forced me to change my mind about what is and isn't possible. I feel a responsibility to let my readers know that ESP, as represented in books of mine such as A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye, is a reality." Other popular novels for teens by the author include Killing Mr. Griffen and I Know What You Did Last Summer, both of which were recently adapted for film.
Her nonfiction book, Psychic Connections: A Journey into the MysteriousWorld of Psi, written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D., projectdirector for the Psychical Research Foundation, introduces teenagers to thefascinating world of parapsychology. Based on laboratory research anddocumented case histories, Psychic Connections addresses such subjectsas astral projection, near-death experiences, apparitions and hauntings,poltergeists, clairvoyance, telepathy, and practical applications of ESP, suchas the use of psychic detectives by law enforcement.

author fun facts
Born: April 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education: University of New Mexico
Currently lives: North Carolina
Favorite . . .

. . . hobbies:
photography
. . . foods: rare roast beef, spaghetti, avocados, tomatoes, shell fish, anything chocolate
. . . clothes to wear: shorts and bare feet in summer; jeans and sweat shirts in winter
. . colors:
yellow
. . . books: everything
Inspiration for writing: It's what I do. Like breathing.
If you would like to ask Lois Duncan a question of your own, send email to duncarq@interpath.com

Awards

Awards

NOMINEE 1990 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
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