I Know What You Did Last Summer (novel)

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I Know What You Did Last Summer
AuthorLois Duncan
CountryUnited States
GenreYoung adult fiction, thriller
PublishedOctober 1973 Little Brown
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Pages199 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN0-316-19546-4 (first edition, hardback)
LC ClassPZ7.D9117 Iak

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973) is a suspense novel for young adults by Lois Duncan. It was later adapted into the film of the same name.

Plot summary[edit]

In an unnamed town, high-school senior Julie James receives a sinister note from an elusive stalker telling her, "I know what you did last summer." The note refers to events of the previous year, when Julie, her boyfriend Ray Bronson, Ray's best friend Barry Cox, and Barry's girlfriend and Julie's best friend Helen Rivers accidentally ran over and killed a young boy named David Gregg after driving home from a party in the mountains to celebrate Ray and Barry's high-school graduation. After promising to never tell anyone, they drift apart: Barry goes to the local college, Helen drops out of school, Ray goes to California, and Julie continues at school. Now, having received the note, Julie fearfully visits Helen. They call Barry, but he is sure it is just a prank; anyone who did know about their crime would go to the police instead of leaving notes. This calms the girls. Ray returns home to Julie, but she does not want to continue their relationship because she is dating a new kid, Bud.

Shortly after the fateful night , Helen had won a beauty contest and a spot as Channel 5 Golden Girl, the studio's new TV personality, much to the fury of her sullen, envious older sister Elsa. Helen is suntanning at her luxury-apartment complex, the Four Seasons, when she meets Collingsworth "Collie" Wilson, just out of the army. After this encounter, she finds a magazine cutout of a boy riding a bicycle taped to her apartment door.

Ray brings in the mail at his house and he has received a newspaper clipping about Daniel Gregg, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Gregg. He was the foursome's hit-and-run victim last summer. The book goes into Ray's memory in which his father commented on Ray's popular football friend Barry (and the first time Ray's father met Barry) and cheerleader girlfriend Julie. Ray painfully remembers calling for help after the accident.

On Memorial Day, Barry receives a call; after he hangs up, he walks out of his university fraternity house to meet his caller. It is dark, he has trouble seeing, and he is shot. When Ray finds out, he calls St. Joseph's Hospital to ask about him, and is told he is in surgery. Helen is in the TV studio when she finds out about Barry; when Collie finds out, he picks her up there and takes her to the hospital. However, Barry's mother accuses Helen of calling Barry and shooting him, and ejects Collie and her from the hospital. After Julie finds out, she receives a phone call from Ray, asking if they could discuss what has been happening; she meets him, but the only thing they agree on is that the shooter was not Helen. Julie suggests going to the Greggs' to see if their tormentor is one of Daniel's family members.

At the Greggs', Ray and Julie use the excuse of car trouble and Megan Gregg lets them in. Ray goes into the kitchen and pretends to make a call while Julie talks to Megan, who is Daniel's sister. She tells Julie that their mother had a breakdown after Daniel's death and was sent to a hospital in Las Lunas, and their father moved there to be close to her. To comfort Megan, Julie reveals that she lost her own father at a young age. When Ray and Julie leave, Julie tells Ray what she found out. They head to Helen's apartment, where they find Elsa tormenting Helen about the attack on Barry. Elsa reluctantly leaves when they arrive, and Julie wonders if Elsa could be responsible for the threats and attack; she had always been jealous of Helen and may have learned about the hit-and-run by accident, as the sisters shared a room when they both lived with their parents.

Ray calls the hospital and learns that since Barry was shot in the spine, he's paralyzed and it may be permanent. Ray sneaks into the hospital to visit Barry and try to talk him into dissolving the secrecy pact. Barry refuses, lying that the shooting was a robbery that had nothing to do with the accident. But thinking back to the night of the shooting, Barry recalls that he was lured out by an anonymous caller who supposedly had photographic evidence of the accident and would give it to Barry in exchange for money. Barry fell for it, agreed to meet the caller at the University athletic field, and was shot.

Leaving the hospital, Ray sees Bud and they have coffee together. Ray says he will get Julie back and Bud challenges him, then says Julie will not go to Smith College because of him. Later, Collie appears in Helen's apartment and solemnly states that he is Daniel's older brother, he shot Barry, and he left the picture on her door. Then he says he will kill her and the girl he is going out with that night. Helen panics and locks herself in her bathroom; when Collie tries to take the door off its hinges, she breaks the bathroom window and jumps out.

While Julie prepares to go out with Bud, her mother says she is worried and wants her to stay home, so she agrees, but when Bud arrives, he convinces her to at least walk him to his car so they can talk. He seems impatient, and she realizes she has never seen him so angry. She remembers the first moment she saw Ray when he returned from California, and she realizes she still has feelings for him. At his car, Bud reveals that he is Collingsworth Wilson, Daniel Gregg's half-brother, and he found out who had run him down by questioning the florist where Julie had bought condolence flowers anonymously. He also explains that Collie and Bud are, in fact, the same person. Bud begins strangling Julie and as she is at the point of unconsciousness, Ray appears and beats Bud/Collie unconscious with a flashlight. When the paramedics come, Bud is arrested for attempted murder. They tell Julie and Ray about Helen's accident and how she had sent them to Julie's house because there would be an attempt on her life. When Julie asked Ray how he knew of Bud's intentions, he tells her Barry called him to release him from the pact, and later he realized who Bud was. Then Julie asks Ray why Bud never tried to hurt him, and Ray answers: "He did, tonight. He knew the worst thing for me would be to stay alive in a world without you."

Reissue and updates[edit]

In October 2018, Little, Brown, the publishers of many of Duncan's titles, reissued her books with updates to modernize some of the content.[1] I Know What You Did Last Summer was in the first group of 10 different titles that were updated and reissued with these changes.[1] Small details were changed to include references to modern tools such as Google, cell phones, and clothing choices.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Lois Duncan Thrillers Get an Update". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2015-10-30.