BY OLINE H. COGDILL

Sun Sentinel

BENEATH THE SHADOWS

By Sara Foster

Minotaur ($24.99)

Australian author Sara Foster uncovers a rich vein of atmosphere in the North Yorkshire moors for her intense psychological thriller about a woman trying to rebuild her life after her husband disappears.

A touch of the supernatural and family ghost tales add to the already spooky landscape that blankets Foster’s debut. But Foster’s dabbling in the occult doesn’t subtract from the realistic fears and down-to-earth problems explored in “Beneath the Shadows.” Foster uses the sub-genre of the quiet, non-violent English village mystery to gracefully weave in the themes of loss, grief and abandonment in “Beneath the Shadows.”

Grace and Adam Lockwood have just moved from London with Millie, their 10-week-old daughter, to the remote village of Roseby where he has an inherited a cottage from his grandparents. Adam spent a little time in Roseby as a teenager after his mother died and he has fond memories of Hawthorn Cottage, the village and the surrounding moors. One week after the move, Adam takes Millie for a walk while Grace continues to unpack. A few hours later, Grace finds Millie in her stroller, unharmed, at their doorstep, but Adam has disappeared.

Foster skillfully uses the village’s isolation and the moors where “the raw, untouched vistas had the power to stop your mind” as a metaphor for Grace’s own isolation. Grace’s grief influences each of her actions, and her parents, her sister and an old friend worry that she may verge on a mental breakdown. Grace is obsessive about finding out if Adam left or if something more sinister happened.

The absorbing plot of “Beneath the Shadows” shows that a quiet, non-violent mystery can pack a lot of punch.

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