Category: Psychological, Murder, Mystery, Contemporary, Book Review
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
The story begins on New Year’s Day 2019 as a body is found in the grounds of the exclusive Loch Corrin, an estate in the Scottish Highlands, by the gamekeeper, Doug.
The estate incorporates a shooting lodge and cabins for the guests, managed by Heather, for hire as a holiday venue. A group of nine friends have booked the lodge for their New Year celebrations. The narrative alternates between the group arriving at the lodge and the present, from the perspectives of individual characters.
It’s obvious from the outset a murder has been committed but the severe weather conditions prevent the police from an immediate response and we hear from several of the friends as they describe the events which culminate in the murder.
Emma, the newest member of the group, organised the holiday in the hopes that it would be a resounding success. She is desperate to be accepted. The New Year’s Eve getaway was a big thing and had been going on for many years before Emma was on the scene.
It’s tricky – as anyone who has been in this situation will know – to be the latest addition to a group of old friends. It seems that I will always be the new girl, however many years pass. I will always be the last in, the trespasser.
I look again at the brochure in my lap. Perhaps this trip – so carefully planned – will change things. Prove that I am one of them.
As the story progresses and in the midst of the hard partying with drink and occasional drug taking, it’s obvious all is not well between the friends. There are dark undercurrents of resentments and secrets which are revealed slowly and highlight their self-serving natures. They are all privileged and take it as their due. Outward appearances may be attractive but when the layers are peeled back it’s a completely different matter.
The blurb drew me in initially. I liked the idea of a small group of people marooned in a remote wilderness made unreachable by a severe snow storm, with no means of leaving, as a murder is discovered. I expected a tense story full of suspense but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It’s a slow read with many individual, self obsessed internal monologues and not much happening except a growing animosity surfacing between the characters, none of whom were likeable and were less so the more I learned about them. I’m sure that was the intent given the friends’ personalities, but I need to care about the characters to become involved with the story. The only ones I felt any liking or sympathy for were Heather and Doug.
The setting however is very evocative—the snowy landscape, the lodge on the banks of the loch with the mountains as a backdrop. Towards the end the action picked up with some tense twists and the why, who and how of the murder was revealed.
I chose to read and review The Hunting Party courtesy of Harper Collins and NetGalley
Lucy Foley writes bestselling escapist, epic fiction that has been compared to Victoria Hislop, Santa Montefiore, Kate Morton and Lucinda Riley and is perfect for summer reading or as a bookclub choice. Lucy’s books have been translated into 16 languages. She worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she wrote her first novel. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling the world (for research, naturally!) and working on her next book. LAST LETTER FROM ISTANBUL is her latest novel.
Her first thriller, THE HUNTING PARTY, publishes in January 2019 and is a Scottish-highlands-set murder mystery which has been compared to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE and Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY.