DCI Ryan is on a not entirely voluntary three-month sabbatical from the police force, due to the horrific ending of the last serial killer case he investigated. He's spending this sabbatical on Lindisfarne, a.k.a. "Holy Island." Ryan is living very quietly, but the total population of the island is somewhere around 200, so he's gotten to know, at least slightly, a good proportion of that population.
So one morning, when one of the local women, out walking her dog in the early morning, stumbles upon a dead body, with no police force on the island, she goes directly to DCI Ryan.
Ryan acts immediately to protect the crime scene, get the one local doctor to do a preliminary examination of the dead body, and successfully lobbies his boss to get his sabbatical revoked and put him in charge of the case. Because the dead young woman, Lucy Matheson, was killed sometime during the five hours of the night when Lindisfarne was completely cut off from the mainland, the pool of potential suspects is limited to the local residents. That's a mixed blessing, because it means that at least initially, Ryan can't rule out anyone capable of being of use in the investigation. That includes the tiny Coast Guard force that are otherwise the first responders to anything on-island that needs police-like action.
It's worse that Lucy's death looks like a ritual killing.
As Ryan pulls together a team from his off-island colleagues, and starts serious investigation, he discovers a web of secrets, private scandal, pagan religious activity of varying degrees of seriousness, and complicated relationships that will make this about as difficult as it can be.
And then a second body is found, another woman, killed in a similar ritual way..
Ryan is facing another serial killer.
This is a nicely complex tale, with characters who have real depth and substance. And there's a twist at the end, after you are sure you know the whole thing, that really took me by surprise, and sets up some interesting possibilities for future books in the series.
I bought this book.