This posthumous, newly found novel is a far cry from Shannon's long series of crisp police procedurals featuring Luis Mendoza of the L.A.P.D. and closer in spirit to the small collections of short stories that were part of her oeuvre. To its bleak English village setting comes John Harkness, an American reporter now working in London after a six-year absence. A rambling trip through the countryside brings him to a pub in Cornwall where he hears mention of Richard Manson, an acquaintance of his earlier London stint, author of a best-seller at the time, now rumored to be a recluse. Harkness finds him living locally in Poltressor House, his ancestral home, with exquisite wife Eve, a small son, and a doddering aunt. Harkness is greeted with enthusiasm but is instantly aware of bad vibes. They seem to center on a family legend about first-born sons, but there's also Manson's unhealthy obsession with the occult, his testy bullying of the boy, and an obvious coolness to a wife whose own background has a sinister side. Harkness is drawn into their circle by a powerful attraction to Eve--and by a slowly growing fear for the boy's life that proves valid as events draw to a dramatic finale. Heavy gothic overtones, a somewhat dithery hero, and much brittle, often banal dialogue lead to midway sag in a story with an intriguing start and a satisfying finish. Shannon's legions of fans might have wished for one more Mendoza outing rather than this competent but only mildly engrossing work.