This is James' eighteenth book, and is one of Adam Dalgliesh series.
On the eve of a special weekend with his new love, Emma Lavenham, Dalgliesh is summoned to handle an especially delicate case at short notice. He and his team, D.I. Kate Miskin and Sargeant Benton-Smith, are to fly by helicopter to remote Combe Island to investigate the suspicious death of a prominent author, and report back immediately. The island is needed for a secret conference and it must be shown to be secure.
The dead man, aging novelist Nathan Oliver, had been found hanging from the rails of the lighthouse. The few residents and guests on the island all had reason to dislike him, but no real obvious motives for murder (the bruising on his neck does prove it to be murder).
The manager, the accountant/priest, the housekeeper, the cook, the boat captain, the handyman, the maid, the last descendant of the family who owned the island and her valet, the teenage maid, the two guests, and the novelist's middle-aged daughter and his personal copy editor...who could have hated him so much?
Another tragic death happens before the mystery can be solved; and a SARS outbreak takes out Dalgliesh, quarantines the island, and leaves Miskin and Benton-Smith on their own and in charge.
This book is another success for James--a wonderful location and her usually superbly drawn and realistically motivated characters make it a must-read this winter.