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Who Killed My Daughter.

In 1989, Lois Duncan, an award-winning writer of fiction for young adults, published her 38th book, Don't Look Behind You. Duncan modeled the heroine, April, after her 18-year-old daughter, Kait, and gave Kait the bound galleys, inscribing them, "For my own special 'April,'" adding jokingly, but perhaps with an undercurrent of foreboding, "Always be sure to look behind you, Honey!"

One month after Don't Look Behind You came out, Kait was chased down and shot to death by a hitman driving a Camero. In one of the scenes of the book, April too was chased by a hitman in a Camero. In another, her family was forced into hiding under the Federal Witness Security Program. In 1990, Duncan and her husband, Don, went into hiding because relatives of two suspects threatened to kill them.

Duncan, who professed to "a lifetime of skepticism" about psychic phenomena, gave up the idea that her daughter's death was a coincidence when she saw an entry in the police file. The police had indicted a man named "Mike" as the triggerman in Kait's murder. In an interview with one of Mike's cronies, a detective asked if he knew Mike's last name. "I don't know," the friend said. "Well, his nickname was vampires or something. They always called him 'Vamp'". In her book, Duncan had written, "Mike Vamp doesn't play pattycake, April.... He's one of the most notorious hitmen in the country. It's not just because of his name that he's known as 'the Vampire.' He follows the scent of blood as though he's got a hunger for it". Duncan said she felt that her fiction had become her life.

Elsewhere Duncan has described her first encounter with parapsychology. In 1952, when she was a student at Duke, Rhine was recruiting members of the freshman class as subjects in ESP tests. Duncan, who had a negative attitude toward the experiments, scored so low that "I was called back for retesting because I had broken a record for incorrect responses."

The police insisted that Kait's murder was a random shooting. Kait's sister, Robin, who suspected Kait's Vietnamese boyfriend, wanted a second opinion and went to a psychic, Betty Muench. As a result, new information emerged and Duncan took up the trail, eventually bringing in three other psychics, Noreen Renier, Nancy Czetli, and Greta Alexander. All came up with significant clues. The book tells how Duncan fitted the pieces together and followed with her own rather risky sleuthing. The outcome is an engrossing account of insurance scams, drug dealing, the Vietnamese mafia, and gang executions.

The book is also a gripping story of a mother's attempt to come to terms with the loss of a child--a child who was at the bloom of life. She did so by reaching into two levels of reality, the underground world of criminal activity and a higher reality from where her daughter seemed to communicate.

The book deals with three topics that may be of special interest to readers of this Journal: precognition, psychic crime detection, and life after death. Don't Look Behind You was not the only work where Duncan's artistic talent may have been a catalyst for psi. Her first suspense novel, Ransom (Doubleday, 1966), was a story of teenagers kidnapped by their school bus driver. Shortly after the book came out, a busload of school children in Livermore, California, where Duncan was living, were kidnapped and held for ransom by their bus driver. Because Duncan knew so much, one of the parents thought she must be an accomplice and wanted to have her arrested.

Perhaps works of suspense are better vehicles for crisis precognition than blander books. Duncan had written some sticky romances before Ransom, none of which showed traces of psi, although three of her suspense novels did.

Psychic detective work is subject to the same vagaries as other ESP practices. An apparent example of displacement was produced by Noreen Renier. In the attempt to get pictures of the people involved in Kait's murder, Renier had a police artist make sketches of her impressions of two of them. The first looked vaguely familiar to Duncan. The second "caused my knees to buckle". It was, unmistakably, Mike Vamp. Not the real Mike Vamp, but the Mike Vamp shown on the cover of the British edition of Don't Look Behind You. The U.S. edition did not carry this picture so it was unlikely Renier had seen it. Kait, however, had looked at the British artwork a few days before she died. Duncan thought her daughter had communicated the image of the fictional hitman as a way to say she had been killed, not in a random shooting, but by a hitman, and as a way to say drugs were involved since the Mike Vamp in the book was a drug runner.

Who Killed My Daughter is obviously not a research treatise. It would be interesting, though, if someone would make an examination of the work to evaluate the psi components. For instance, could Renier somehow have come across a copy of the British edition of the book? If this can be definitively ruled out, it would be interesting to have a "line-up" of several drawings of males to see if blind judges would match the Mike Vamp on the cover with Renier's picture. In evaluating the chance proability of a match it also has to be remembered that there were other possible "targets" aside from the bookcover, such as the people who were actually involved in the crime. But the resemblance between Renier's picture and the fictional Mike Vamp is striking. The same is true for the matches between the circumstances surrounding the murder and the precognitive and mediumistic impressions. And it is a fascinating and deeply moving book.(1)

1 See "When Fiction Becomes Reality," Theta, 17, 1991, pp. 18-21.

2 Hagio, S. (1988). |Review of~ Sai no senjo. Journal of Parapsychology, 52, 180-181.

3 All quotations are translations by the reviewer.

W. G. ROLL Isleway House Fairfield Plantation Villa Rica, GA 30180
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Author:Roll, W.G.
Publication:The Journal of Parapsychology
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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