They Never Came Home

They Never Came Home

by Lois Duncan

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440207801
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/28/1990
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 422,461
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.93(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile: 750L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Lois Duncan (1934–2016) is best known for her psychological suspense novels. She received multiple awards from the Mystery Writers of America and was the 1991 recipient of the Young Adult Library Services Association's Margaret A. Edwards Award sponsored by School Library Journal magazine. Many of her books have also been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults.

Read an 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.''

Customer Reviews

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They Never Came Home 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Maggie1154 More than 1 year ago
I think this book is a wonderful suspenseful novel! It's about two teenage boys who go on a camping trip, but it ends up being much more than that. This book was clearly written for entertainment purposes. It was probably directed towards middle school readers. This book was wonderful and I highly recommend it! Lois Duncan is an amazing author! She started writing at age 13 and has never stopped. She has written many successful books such as Summer of Fear and I Know What You Did Last Summer. I am judging this book entirely off of entertainment reasons. That is because I feel that this is the reason this book was written. The plot of this book is about how a kid who gets into some trouble solves his problems in the wrong way! He does this just so that he doesn't have to face what's going on. It also tells of all the lives he changed in between. This story is set in the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. The story ends in California. Overall I think this is a wonderful book full of suspense. It has a surprising twist at the end that makes you want to read more. Lois Duncan is an amazing author! I've loved all the books of hers that I have read. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves suspense and mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was on over-all okay book, because the first part of it was very boring. As it goes on though, it gets a little bit better. These two boys go on a camping trip and never come home. The parents and the kids at school are very worried about them and think they are dead. Until one day a mysterious phone call comes in from a guy, and from there it all goes down-hill. This book is a very mysterious book, and it seems to keep you on your toes. The characters are very well introduced too. You can understand what is happening in this book. They Never Came Home could've been better but it was okay the way it is.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book They Never Came Home is a good book. When Larry and Dan does not come back from camping there famil get worried. The family recived a phone call saying that Larry owes some one up to two thounds dollors. Do they find them? Is the phone tellin the truth about Larry owes him up to two thounds dollors?
amcguinn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dan and Larry go on a weekend camping trip and do not return home as expected. A search is organized, but is called off after several days. Was the disappearance planned or have they fallen in harm's way? This book kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense. Duncan's vivid descriptions of the events and landscape made this story come alive. The topics of betrayal and trust will grab teen readers.Awards and Honors: none
Emilyisdubomb More than 1 year ago
Overall book was a pretty good book to me. It is very suspenseful and a real page turner. This book is fiction but could really happen. I would recommend this book to others if they were looking for a good mystery to read. I liked it. The author of this book Lois Duncan who is a very suspenseful writer. She has written many other scary stories and mysteries. I have read many other mysteries books in my life by other authors but Lois Duncan is my favorite. She makes you wait and want to read to find out what happened, at least that's what she did for me. I hope you enjoy this book! `
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They never came home is a book full of suspense and mystery. It is one the best books I have ever read. It all started out by Larry Drayfus and Dan Cotwell went on a camping trip and they haven't returned from it yet. They have been gone for about a month or so. There families are very worried about them and they are still hoping that they are still alive somewhere, they just couldn't admit to their selves that they were dead. One day the Drayfus family got a call on her house phone from a man named Mr. Brown, he had told her that her brother Larry had owed him $2,000. Is there still hope that there alive somewhere or dead?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
¿They never came home¿ is a thriller which I can absolutely recommend, even though I usually dislike such books - except the ones from Lois Duncan!! The matter of this book is the mysterious disappearance of Larry Drayfus and his friend Dan Cotwell in the Mogollon Mountains of New Mexico. Few weeks later Joan (Larry¿s sister and Dan¿s girlfriend) gets a call in which she comes to know that her brother had a secret job, carrying jewels from Mexico to his hometown LasCruces, on account of that he owns the caller 2000$. During she works off the debts for her brother Joan discover by chance what her real job was: smuggling marijuana. In the end she finds his brother in California, because a friend of her saw him together with Dan. Larry had kidnapped Dan because he wanted to star a new life with the 2000$ in California. The story ends after Larry jumped down from the 8th floor of an apartment because of his bad conscience bothered him terribly. Over all it was interesting to read and the comprehension was mostly not too difficult for a second-language speaker like me. The only thing which was a bit confusing at the beginning was the different storylines which go parallel to each other. To me, the book is linguistically not as brilliant as some others by Lois Duncan but it¿s still a pleasing spelling style which underlines the desperation of the main characters in their particular situation. Joan, for example, is a well reared girl who just graduated which doesn¿t know much about her family. At the beginning of the book she was a smart girl but she turned sad when she recognized how less she knows about her brother and his problems. Her brother Larry seems like a usual boy who¿s not very interested in education and sports but he turned out be just thinking about himself and how he can live with less effort but much comfort, no matter what it takes for him or for other people what he regrets at the end before he decided to die. What I particularly liked were some scenes when Duncan described the settings a bit eerily and creepily. This leads to the feeling that you¿re directly involved in the story (or even in the position of one of the characters) and you can easily imagine pictures in your mind. I gave the book five stars, because the story is very interesting and very exciting and I loved each of the 183pages. It¿s nearly impossible to lay it aside because you¿re so deepened in the whole story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
They Never Came Home is one of the best books I ever read, especially if you really like mystery and suspense. I think that Lois Duncan is one of the best authors, and that her foreshadowing is unbelievable. The book was really exciting from beginning to end, and I really like that in a book. Page after page just kept me guessing,wondering, and mostly thinking, making me want to read more. I highly reccomend this book to anyone who likes mystery and/or killing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is book is very exciting and will have you sitting at the edge of your seat. There is a twist that you won't believe. If you love suspense get this. It is worth reading and is enjoyable by most teens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was a pretty goood book, i like it but it didint have enough action i mean the most was in the end and it was that excitng.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two boys go camping.They don't come home.One's sister finds out that he owed money.She ies to make it back.It was a ok book.It was a boring book.It had no action.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two boys went camping. Then they became missing.Their families were worried. Everybody began to think that they were dead, but they weren't! Read this book to see what happens.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I gave this book 3 stars,I liked it to some extent.It's a story about a girl named Joan,her brother{Larry},and joans boyfriend{Dan}went on a 'so called' camping trip,and they ended up missing.Then Joan finds out about Larry's 'little secret',and the ending will blow you away.I liked this book, it was sort of borning in the middle but i give it a thumbs up,a very good book by Louis Duncan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good at the beginning. As you read on, it got boring. Eventually the plot of the story got better. The ending was not nearly how I thought it was going to be.Overall this book was O.K.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lois Duncun has done it again! This book is intense and mysterious all the way through it leaves you thinking up until the last page and you still wonder about it after the book is closed! It also answered my question 'They Never Came Home.... or did they??'
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book really keeps you interested in reading! i could not put this down till it was done
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was totally seat-gripping the whole time. I wasn't able to set it down at all. I reccomend this book to anyone who loves susspensful books. It's a thriller.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a story a story about a girl named Joan, who's brother and boyfriend go on a camping trip and ends up missing. Joan then recives a phone call, regarding her brother's disapperance. It turns out that Larry (Joan's brother) owes the man two thousand dallors! Joan now must befriend her boyfriend's brother, and keep her mother from insanity. Will they figure it out in time, before someone finds out about Joan's brother's 'little bussiness?'
Guest More than 1 year ago
The begginning of this book was pretty good and it left you thinking that Joan the main charecter would fall in love with her lost boyfriends younger brother. As the book progressed it began to show many charecters points of views and became a little confusing yet somehow keeps you reading. All in all this was not the best of Lois Duncans books in my opinion, but certainly not the worse. I like her books that have a bit of romance added to the story and this one did allthough it was a bit uncertain untilt he end. Just read it, and see what you think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is so good because you never know what is going to happen next. It is highly recomended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really interesting at the begining but towards the end it got boring. The ending seemed like she was running out of time in writing it and just cut it off where she was. Over all the book was pretty good, just had a bad conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a great whole class enjoyed reading it.