cover image Undertow


Elizabeth Heathcote. Park Row, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-7783-3096-7

Echoes of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca reverberate throughout British author Heathcote’s impressive debut. Londoners Carmen and Tom Cawton, who have been happily married for two years, talk about having a child while weathering the challenges of frequent weekend visits with Tom’s three children from his first marriage to Laura. Those visits usually occur at their second home, a beach bungalow in the Norfolk village of St. Jude’s that Tom once co-owned with his one-time mistress, Zena Johnson. Three years earlier, Zena disappeared after going for a swim. Days later her body washed up a mile from the bungalow. St. Jude’s is a gossipy place, and Carmen hears a rumor that some people think Tom murdered Zena. Carmen’s curiosity about Zena turns into an obsession. She snoops through Tom’s possessions and relentlessly compares herself to the charismatic Zena with her film-star looks, causing friction in her marriage. The intense psychological thriller is strengthened by an evocative isolated setting that seems ruled by Zena’s ghost. Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (June)