Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from Edelweiss in exchange from an honest review.
The Hunting Party is a different kind of story for well-established author Lucy Foley. Foley has stepped away from historical fiction to bring readers this atmospheric, chilling new crime novel in the vein of Agatha Christie and classic "cabin in the woods" horror films.
How well do you really know your friends? You think you know their secrets, but the darkest ones might really shock you. They might not be your friends at all.
Set in Scotland, The Hunting Party tells the tale of a group of Oxford graduates on their annual New Year's Eve trip. The large group arrives at a secluded lodge on December 30th, prepared for their usual champagne-fuelled days of partying and reminiscing. This year something is different.
Two days into the trip, one of them is dead.
Was it an accident, or was it murder?
Each of them becomes a suspect. There's Miranda, the beautiful but sometimes mean-spirited wife of Julien, the equally beautiful golden boy with a secret. New parents Samira and Giles. Then there's Mark, a man with a volatile temper and his partner, Emma. Emma is the newest to the group. Her keenness to be liked evident in her try-hard attitude. Like Emma, Bo is newer to the group, an ex-drug addict and partner to Nick. Finally, there's Katie; the odd-one-out. Now a work-focused lawyer, she was previously Miranda's "pet project" - perpetually single.
"It's like family, I suppose. All that history. We know everything there is to know about one another."
Lucy Foley, The Hunting Party
They aren't the only suspects. An Icelandic couple also found their way to the lodge for the New Year. And, of course, there are also the two live-in workers on the property, Heather and Doug, both of whom have seemingly mysterious histories. After all - you don't choose to live in the secluded wilderness if your life is perfect, do you?
A cast of characters this large could easily become a mess, but Foley wrangles them with ease. The story is told in multiple points-of-view. Chapters alternate between Heather, Emma, Katie, Doug, and Miranda.
Each character is well-rounded enough that, despite the switching of point-of-view, it's easy enough to follow the flow of the story and each person's place in it. The characters are one of the most important and admirable conventions Foley has employed in The Hunting Party.
The setting itself comes in at a close second. The atmospheric landscape of an isolated Scottish lodge is a character itself (which is one of my favourite fiction conventions). Shortly after the arrival of the guests, the initially idyllic scenery begins to press in, the snow turning from beautiful to eerie, the dark claustrophobic.
The narrative flits from before the guest's disappearance to the aftermath. Interestingly, Foley also chooses to withhold who the missing guest is, leading the reader to question not just the perpetrator but who the victim is. This choice means even more mystery for the reader, particularly those adept at uncovering the truth in similar suspense novels.
The Hunting Party is one of the few recent novels that have kept me guessing until the final pages. There are a lot of things to uncover - what did Doug do, what happened to Heather, what's Julien's secret, who was Miranda's stalker, what's Katie hiding, who's gone missing, who killed them? If you're the type of reader who can unravel even the most twisted novel, The Hunting Party should keep you guessing. This isn't your typical "who-dun-it".
For readers in the cooler hemisphere over Christmas, The Hunting Party is the perfect chilling novel to offset the seasonal cheer. You can pick it up as an ebook on Amazon. And I definitely recommend that you do!
Why Read This Book?
- Female author
- Strong characters
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The Hunting Party
A group of Oxford graduates visit an isolated Scottish cabin to celebrate the coming New Year. Two days later, one of them is dead. How well do you know your friends? You know all their secrets ...