Random House: Bringing You the Best in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Children's Books
Authors
Books
Features
Newletters and Alerts

Buy now from Random House

  • They Never Came Home
  • Written by Lois Duncan
  • Format: Paperback | ISBN: 9780440207801
  • Our Price: $6.99
  • Quantity:
See more online stores - They Never Came Home

They Never Came Home

Written by Lois DuncanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lois Duncan

They Never Came Home Cover

Bookmark,
Share & Shelve:

  • Add This - They Never Came Home
  • Email this page - They Never Came Home
  • Print this page - They Never Came Home
ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Tags for this book (powered by Library Thing)
young adult (11) mystery (11) fiction (10) suspense (9) ya (4)
young adult (11) mystery (11) fiction (10) suspense (9) ya (4)
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Joan’s boyfriend and her brother are missing and assumed dead. Until the voice on the other end of the phone hints at something more terrible.

Excerpt

Now he glanced up and saw Peggy crossing the room toward him. She had changed from her uniform into a skirt and sweater. With her hair fixed that new way, curling forward over her forehead, she might have been a high school girl rather than a working waitress and a college student.

"Hi," she said. "I'm sorry to have been so long. Mary's offered to take over for me now, so I'm free as a bird at last!"

"That's okay. I've been stuffing myself on pie. What do you want to do tonight?" He got to his feet and picked up the bill for the pie and coffee. "We might be able to catch the last feature at the Palm. I think they've got that new comedy playing."

"Sounds fine to me," Peggy said agreeably.

At the cashier's desk she fastened the top button of her sweater while Dave counted out his change. Before them, the college boys from the far table were paying their own bill. Their dates stood apart, over by the door, chatting together. Suddenly the small, pretty one said, "Dan?"

Automatically, Dave raised his head and swung it in her direction. She was staring at him, as she had been earlier from the other table, but now her face was dead white. She looked as though she had just seen a ghost.

"You are Dan! You're Dan Cotwell!"

"I'm sorry," Dave said, "you must have me mixed up with somebody else."

"I don't! I couldn't!" The dark eyes were huge in the small face. "You are Dan, you must be! Nobody could look so much like Dan! Even your voice--the way you walk!"

"I'm sorry," Dave said again. "You're mistaken." He laid the money for the bill on the counter and took Peggy's arm. "Come on," he said hoarsely, "let's get out of here."

They stepped through the door out onto the sidewalk, and the fresh salt breeze swept into their faces. Behind them, the girl and her escort were also emerging from the restaurant, but he did not turn to look back at them. He could feel the girl's eyes on his back; he knew she was still staring. He could see in his mind's eye the shock on her face, could hear again the sound of her voice: "Dan!"

She had called him "Dan." He had turned, hearing the name! He had reacted to the name, almost as though it were his own!

What's wrong with me, he asked himself wildly. Am I nuts or something? My name is David, David Carter!

He thought, I need a doctor! I've got to see a doctor! No matter what Lance says, something is wrong with me, something more than just a jolt to my mind! I can't go on like this any longer! What if I'm actually crazy! What if all these dark churning things within me should come surging out one day, all these things I don't even know are there, and I turn into a raving maniac or something! What if I hurt somebody!

"Dave!" Peggy's voice was thin and frantic. "Dave, wait, please! I can't keep up with you!"

"I'm sorry." He had forgotten for the moment that she was beside him. He slowed his pace, and realized that his hand was clamped upon her arm. Abruptly he released it.

"I'm sorry," he said again. "We're going to the movies, aren't we? Let's see--which direction--"

"I don't want to see a movie," Peggy said shakily. "I want to talk, Dave! I want to know what's wrong! There's something terribly wrong or you wouldn't be acting like this!"

"No. That is, there's nothing you can do about it."

"That girl back there, she spoke to you! I didn't hear what she said, but you knew her!"

"No. No, I didn't know her," Dave said violently. "I've never seen her before in my life."

"Then why did you grab my arm and start to run like that? Why are you shaking? People don't act like that if there's nothing the matter!"

"I don't know. I swear it--I don't know!"

He was shaking, and his heart was pounding against his chest. Before him, the girl's face was a dark blur, raised to his own. Impulsively, he bent his head and brought his mouth down hard upon hers. It was not a gentle kiss; it was desperate and frightened, a crying out through the darkness for something, someone.

When he raised his head, there was a sob in his throat.

"Joan," he said chokingly, "I don't know what to do! I don't know who to turn to! Joan, I'm scared! I'm starting to remember things, but they're the wrong things! They don't fit! Nothing fits!"

The girl in his arms was silent a moment.

Then she said, "There's one thing you're certainly not remembering. I'm Peggy. Peggy Richards. Not Joan.''
Lois Duncan|Author Q&A

About Lois Duncan

Lois Duncan - They Never Came Home

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

Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

They couldn't have just disappeared! Or could they?
That's the way it looks when Dan and Larry don't retum from a weekend camping trip in the mountains. Then Joan, Larry's sister, gets a mysterious call from a man who says Larry owes him a lot of money. Where could her brother be?
Can Joan, with the help of dan's brother Frank, find Dan and Larry? Or are the two destined never to returm?
The following books are also discussed in this guide:
Gallows Hill
Seventeen-year-old Sarah Zoltanne, the main character in Gallows Hill, has just moved to California from a small Missouri town. Eager to fit in at her new high school, Sarah reluctantly agrees to run a fortune-telling booth at the annual carnival. This role-playing turns terrifying when Sarah begins to have visions that predict the future. Her frightened classmates set off a chain of events that makes Sarah the object of a modern-day witch-hunt.
Killing Mr. Griffin
In all of Duncan's novels, the teenaged main characters are faced with decisions that could change the course of their lives: In Killing Mr. Griffin, five high-school students plot to kidnap their English teacher. Four teenagers in I Know What You Did Last Summer are involved in a hit-and-run accident. April, in Don't Look Behind You, moves to Florida with her family when her family is relocated under the witness protection program. When she disobeys the rules, she finds her life in grave danger. In The Third Eye, Karen's life changes when she uses her psychic powers to locate missing children. And five high-schoolers, kidnapped in Ransom, and are forced to work together to try to escape.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Lois Duncan, the most popular writer of suspense stories for young adults, presents characters that experience many of the same issues that today's teenagers face: acceptance, peer pressure, revenge, responsibility, and leadership are just a few.
Duncan's books are excellent choices for reading aloud and for engaging the class in meaningful dialogue. They also offer readers the thrill of a good mystery.

TEACHING IDEAS

Pre-Reading Activity

Invite a police officer to talk with the students about teenaged crime in their city or town. What are the most frequent crimes committed by teenagers? How do pranks lead to crimes? Many teenaged criminals are good kids who made bad decisions. Engage the class in a discussion about what they should do if they suddenly find themselves in a prank about to turn bad.

Thematic Connections

Acceptance
--Sarah in Gallows Hill, Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin, and April in Don't Look Behind You, are striving to be accepted by the kids at school. Ask students to discuss how each of these characters might be considered an outsider. Each girl, in her effort to be accepted, makes a bad decision and takes part in something that is very wrong. How does the desire to be accepted affect student behavior in most schools? Ask students to discuss news events where poor judgment and the desire to be accepted ended in tragedy. Engage the class in a discussion about ways to make an outsider feel accepted.

Peer Pressure--Eric in Gallows Hill, Mark in Killing Mr.Griffin, and Barry in I Know What You Did Last Summer are masters at manipulating their peers. Ask the class to discuss how peer pressure is related to the desire to be accepted by others. How are Sarah in Gallows Hill, Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin, and Julie in I Know What You Did Last Summer victims of peer pressure? Divide the class into small groups and ask them to role-play a real-life scene where a student is pressured. Then ask the class to discuss alternative scenarios.

Revenge--Ask students to define revenge. How is accusation used as a means of revenge in Gallows Hill? Have students discuss why Mark, Betsy, and Jeff are so intent on taking revenge upon their teacher in Killing Mr. Griffin. Discuss how revenge is the driving force behind the witness protection program. How is April the victim of revenge in Don't Look Behind You? How does Bud seek revenge in I Know What You Did Last Summer? What do these books say about the human propensity for vengeance?

Responsibility--In Duncan's books teenagers make very bad decisions that lead them into a life of guilt and lies. What consequences do these teens face for their deceit? At what point do the characters in each of these novels acknowledge that they are responsible for their actions? Ask students to discuss how Karen in The Third Eye and the five teenagers in Ransom appear more responsible than the characters in Duncan's other novels.

Leadership--In Gallows Hill and Killing Mr. Griffin, there are characters who use their leadership abilities to get others to do what they want. In Killing Mr. Griffin, Mark uses his handsome looks and popularity to get Susan and the others to go along with the plan to abduct Mr. Griffin. Eric, in Gallows Hill, uses his charm to persuade Sarah to continue to tell fortunes. Ask students to list and discuss the qualities one needs to be an effective leader. How might the teenagers in Ransom define a leader? Ask the class to name the students in their school who represent good leadership (e.g., president of the student government).

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts --Most of Lois Duncan's novels are told from the viewpoint of one or two protagonists, but in Ransom, Duncan shifts the point of view among the five kidnapped teenagers. How does this technique enhance the story? Ask students to select a scene from one of Duncan's other novels and rewrite it from the point of view of another character. How does this change the effect of the novel?

Ask students to stage a talk show where Sarah in Gallows Hill and Susan in Killing Mr. Griffin are featured guests. Have the class question each girl about the mistakes they made, their feelings about the boys who led them astray, and what they have learned about their experiences.

Sarah in Gallows Hill and Karen in The Third Eye have psychic abilities. Ask students to write down the reasons each girl has for denying this "third sense." How are Sarah's reasons different from Karen's reasons? Students may wish to read Lois Duncan's Psychic Connections: A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi to learn more about psychic ability. Have students write a letter that Karen might write to Sarah offering her comfort and advice about how to handle her talent.

Social Studies --People have long been fascinated with fortune-tellers, palm readers, psychics, tarot card readers, and others who claim to have the ability to predict the future. Many people see such things as pure entertainment, as they were intended at the Halloween carnival in Gallows Hill. Ask students to research the various world cultures that still practice some type of witchcraft or supernatural beliefs.

Early in Gallows Hill, Eric says to Kyra, "Gypsies aren't occult. They're a bunch of beggars who look at the lines in people's hands and make up stories about them" (p. 10). Engage the class in a discussion about stereotypes. How do people stereotype Gypsies? Why is it so important to Eric that Sarah has a "Gypsy look"? Ask students to find information in the library or on the Internet about Gypsies. What is their origin? Chart a map that indicates the Gypsy population of the world. Gypsies are sometimes called by other names (e.g., Travelers). Ask students to indicate other names that they find for Gypsies.

In Killing Mr. Griffin, the students who participate in the abduction are motivated by the same kind of mob mentality that drove the villagers of Salem, Massachusetts, to turn upon one another during the witch trials. Using the Internet and/or print resources, ask students to research an instance of mob mentality in recent history (e.g., McCarthy's House Un-American Activities Committee, the race riots of the 1960s, and the 1992 Los Angeles riots). Ask students to write a newspaper story about their topic.

Social Studies --Criminal justice is considered a social science, but it might also be viewed as a pure science. Send students to the library media center to research the many ways that the criminal justice system uses science to acquire evidence on a criminal.

Careers --Ask students to research the various career options in the field of criminal justice. What are the qualifications and training for the different careers? How might social workers be considered partners to those in the field of criminal justice?

Drama ---Divide the class into small groups and ask them to identify a suspenseful scene in one of Lois Duncan's novels and perform it as a one-act play. Remind them that the scene should have strong dialogue. Instruct each group to write a short narrative to introduce their scene. Ask them to select appropriate music that will add to the suspense.

Vocabulary/Use of Language

The vocabulary in Lois Duncan's books is not difficult, but students may enjoy exploring words connected to psychic phenomena like karma, reincarnation, and familiar.

Teaching ideas by Edward Sullivan, Senior Project Librarian, the New York Public Library Connecting Libraries and Schools Project, New York, New York.






AWARDS

Don't Look Behind You
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

Killing Mr. Griffin
ALA Best of the Best Book for Young Adults
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

Locked in Time
ALA Quick Pick
IRA-CBC Children's Choice
Nevada Young Readers Award

Stranger with My Face
ALA Best Book for Young Adults

Summer of Fear
California Young Reader Medal
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

They Never Came Home
New Mexico Press Women's Zia Award

The Twisted Window
Junior Literary Guild Selection
New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age

FURTHER READING

Daughters of Eve by Lois Duncan[0-440-91864-2]
Don't Look Behind You by Lois Duncan[0-440-20729-0]
Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan[0-440-91805-7]
Driver's Ed by Caroline B. Cooney[0-440-21981-7]
Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan[0-440-22725-9]
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This by Jacqueline Woodson[0-440-21960-4]
I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan[0-440-22844-1]
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan[0-440-94515-1]
Locked in Time by Lois Duncan[0-440-94942-4]
Ransom by Lois Duncan[0-440-97292-2]
Stranger with My Face by Lois Duncan[0-440-98356-8]
Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan[0-440-98324-X]
The Third Eye by Lois Duncan[0-440-98720-2]
The Twisted Window by Lois Duncan[0-440-20184-5]


Your E-Mail Address
send me a copy

Recipient's E-Mail Address
(multiple addresses may be separated by commas)

A personal message: