Fairly orthodox ghost story set in the California hill country, from the author of The Paper Grail, Lord Kelvin's Machine, etc. Peter Travers is trying to put his failed marriage behind him and enter into a new relationship with girlfriend Beth. But he keeps seeing--or hallucinating--scenes from his marriage, and hearing a woman's screams far off in the night. Soon after a visit from his wife Amanda and son David, Peter discovers that they have disappeared; two bodies, a woman's and a child are reported lying in a pool higher up the canyon where Peter lives--but the bodies also vanish. Meanwhile, developer Lance Klein is attempting to buy up the properties in the canyon, hoping to make a real-estate killing; his agent is Barney Pomeroy, a dangerous blackmailer and obsessed voyeur who haunts Beth's dwelling and who tries to drive out another resident, Mr. Ackroyd, by putting dead rats in the old man's water tank. Ackroyd, meantime, has also heard the screams and has seen a black-clad woman and a child walking beneath the trees; but he refuses to discuss key events--a tragic love affair, a brutal murder--that occurred 70 years before. Superb characters and setting, in a plot that meshes seamlessly--the single cavil being that it goes on too long: we learn what's happening well before the characters do.