Barbara Michaels is the high priestess of the mystery/ghost story genre, with her restrained spookiness and sense of atmosphere.
The book takes place when a young struggling artist visits her wealthy sister and brother-in-law. Jo's sister Mary just had a third miscarriage, and the loss of her baby is affecting her mentally - she's clinging to the idea of a child out in the woods, who is crying for her and begging for her help. Jo begins to wonder if Mary really is crazy -- but then she hears the crying too.
Jo teams up with her brother in law Ran, and the handsome (but woman-wary) doctor Will Graham, to find out what the crying is. But when the ghostly apparition of a beautiful, sad woman appears, Jo begins to dig into the past of Ran's family, and discovers a web of lies, murder, and terror centering on a lost child...
Quite honestly I had difficulty sleeping after reading this novel -- the climax is intense and terrifying, as is the revelation of who committed those murders. There were plenty of suspects, but at the same time no one would suspect the guilty party.
Jo is an excellent heroine: smart, wry, brave, and loyal to her sister, who is a rather nebulous presence once it's discovered that, while unstable, she's not totally delusional. I thought Ran was something of a controlling fink, but he was very human in his flaws and strong points (loves his wife, wants a child, etc). I disliked Will initially, because of his rather hostile stance toward women, but began to warm to him as the novel progressed.
A delightful ghost story/mystery. Just don't read it after dark!