I got this good-condition hardcover from a local thrift shop, for another release copy. It's set on Fair Isle and involves a bird sanctuary in a storm-isolated area, and (of course) a murder...
The story unfolds from the viewpoints of different characters, including the rather reserved police detective Perez, his fiancee Fran (who's on the island with him to meet his parents - and to see whether she thinks she might be up to a future life on Fair Isle), the intriguing Jane, a former businesswoman who's now a popular cook and housekeeper at the bird-watching center, and quirky bird-watcher Dougie. (The choice of viewpoint-characters is interesting - the recurring characters are obvious, but why those others of the many available characters involved in the story?)
I learned that, to enjoy this series, one must be very careful not to get too attached to characters; sometimes I'm good at guessing which ones are least likely to survive to the end of the book, but here I got thrown for a loop more than once. Just a warning!
The setup included aspects of remote-island-bird-watching that reminded me of a similar setup on the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast, which I got to visit one summer. (That was on a lovely clear day, though, not the icy, foggy, snow-and-sleet storms that plague our characters here!) I liked the descriptions of the avid birders, appreciated the comments about the professional rivalries and jealousies over first-to-identify-rare-birds, and the mix of bickering and camaraderie. But it turns out there are divisive elements too, including the charismatic woman whose death kicks off the story: seems she was in the habit of bedding every remotely attractive male on the island, leading to lots of possible motives for her murder...
I enjoyed getting to know the various characters, seeing Jimmy Perez squirm over introducing his fiancee to his family and his ancestral home, watching the investigation spin out, and reveling in the descriptions of the island. (This is one of those series where the locations seem to be characters of equal standing with the people.)
The isolation of the island causes problems in the investigation, and also means that the killer's still among them; oddly enough, this does not prevent people from wandering off by themselves, but presumably they figured that the victim was killed for a specific motive and that this wouldn't apply to anyone else.
I enjoyed the complication of the trumpeter-swan spotting, which meant that as soon as travel opened up, a flurry of avid birdwatchers would be vying with reporters and mainland police to get to the location - an interesting problem!
The relationship between Fran and Jimmy is put under some stress here, both because of his involvement in the case and because of Fran's feelings of being under examination by his family and friends. (It seems that they first met due to a different murder back on the main island, so Fran's all too familiar with the demands of a criminal investigation, but there are some aspects to the case that put the couple under more strain than usual.)
While there were some shocking and heart-wrenching aspects to the story, the overall tone and pace was rather quiet, almost introspective. I enjoyed the book, and will seek out more in the series.
[There's a recommendation for the book from author Louise Penny on the dust jacket; both authors focus on their human characters and make the settings into characters as well. I also found that this series inspired a TV series, which has a short TV Tropes page. I was able to catch one episode on cable, and enjoyed it - though it's clear that the series has rearranged plots, combined or altered characters, and in some cases changed the victim/murderer. I gather from interviews that the author's OK with this, but I'd have liked to see the original stories depicted.]