By Stacy Horn (Ecco, 289 pages, $24.99)
You might not believe all you read in "Unbelievable: Investigations Into Ghosts, Poltergeists, Telepathy and Other Unseen Phenomena From the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory," but you'll be engrossed by the largely forgotten research of the lab, formerly affiliated with Duke University. In the late 1920s, a group of outsider scientists led by J.B. Rhine set out to objectively study what they called extrasensory perception. The results were impressive, though ultimately inconclusive. For the next five decades, the researchers lived in a world of mediums, poltergeists and other paranormal phenomena. The U.S. government made serious but secret forays into similar research. Even so, the Duke scientists struggled for legitimacy, never fully accepted by the scientific world or completely trusted by paranormal circles. Their work ended without the breakthrough they so hoped for, leaving them with the distaste of having proven nothing but also having disproven nothing.
KATHLEEN CLONTS, NORTH TEAM LEADER
SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT
By Elizabeth Flock (MIRA Books, 345 pages, $21.95)
Samantha Friedman's life is mundane: The stay-at-home mom runs errands, drives the carpool, volunteers, goes to book club. But instead of finding comfort in the ordinary tasks, she is dissatisfied, finds fault with her husband, Bob, and begins an emotional affair with a man she meets on a train. Cameron Friedman, her teenage daughter, is also unhappy with her life. Adopted by Samantha and Bob when she was 2, Cammy is on a painful journey to find her place among the world's harsh realities. She experiments with sex and drugs. Mother and daughter are on parallel paths to destruction. As the mother of a teenage girl, I found it difficult to sympathize with Samantha. She's not merely sleepwalking through life, as the title suggests -- she's asleep at the wheel as Cammy throws up one barely concealed plea for help after another. For example, when Samantha and Bob realize for the first time that Cammy has taken drugs, their solution is to force her to play on the school soccer team. Huh? The novel is well-written, with painfully realistic dialogue, especially the mother-daughter exchanges. It's a good read with a frustrating ending. Just remember, it's only fiction.
JUDY ROMANOWICH SMITH, NEWS DESIGNER