Lois Duncan (Steinmetz Arquette)

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Jennifer Moody

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Lois Duncan, who lives, works and sets her novels in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a recent but immediately successful arrival on the British scene. Popular as she is, not only with the soft underbelly of the literary world, the children's book reviewers, but with its most hardened carapace, the teenage library book borrower, her novel of 1973, I Know What You Did Last Summer has now been published in England….

The story takes place on several levels. As a simple thriller, the mystery of who is responsible for the letters, the threats and the violence, is handled with skill and panache, and, as we have come to expect from Miss Duncan, with a rare gift for suspense. She makes illuminating use of the contrasts between the relationships of Julie and Ray on the one hand and Helen and Barry on the other. Miss Duncan also airs the moral conflict between personal responsibility and obedience to group decisions made democratically. Despite all these positive qualitites, it must be said that this novel has dated badly. Set against a background of campus riots and the Vietnam War, the attitudes and the slang are now remote from the present age and may be quite meaningless to its intended readers. They are in no way intrinsic to the plot, and it would be a shame if this novel failed to find the audience that would appreciate its perception and maturity.

Jennifer Moody, "The Onset of Maturity," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1982; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 4121, March 26, 1982, p. 343.

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Leigh Dean