Happy Friday Friends!
Back today with a new book review. I’ve been off the grind reading wise these past few weeks between a few different things, but I’m looking to make a serious effort now going forward in tackling that ever growing TBR pile (and meeting that Goodreads challenge I set myself at the beginning of this year).
I just recently finished reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. It introduces us to a group of friends who all met and bonded during their time at Oxford University in England. The story begins a few years after they have all graduated and are meeting up to spend New Year’s together in a remote hunting lodge deep in the wilderness of Scotland.
The group is reminiscent of many groups created in college, featuring a cast of characters including: the golden couple who appear to have it all, the new parents with their child in tow, the gay couple, the foreign one, the one with the dark sense of humour, the one who seems overly sweet but is hiding a harsher side, the cheap penny pincher, the one who is on the quieter side, the beautiful one that everyone envies and the inevitable outsider who every body likes, but who joined the group later than the rest resulting in an unfortunate distance.
On the surface, they seem like good friends, keen for a weekend of boozing, fine dining and reminiscing in tranquil surrounds, all under the watchful eye of the lodge’s mystery hostess and groundskeeper. But it’s not long before huge secrets come to light, old grudges are dragged up and one of the group winds up dead, turning the peaceful surroundings into an eery nightmare.
And as a snow storm descends, the group are forced to wait with a killer amongst them until it clears enough for them to be rescued!
The story is told from five different points of view, with chapters alternating between the days before the murder and the day the body is discover and the alarm is raised. These five are:
Emma, the newest member of the group and organiser of the groups trip
Miranda, the beautiful, carefree one who is the centre of the group through her own determination
Katie, the quiet one, who has a big secret she’s keeping from everyone
Heather, the lonely hostess of the lodge recovering from a devastating heartbreak,
and Doug, the mysterious, hulking groundskeeper with a dark past.
I liked this structure for the purposes of telling the story. By giving you glimpses of the body being discovered and the police being called before jumping back in time to detail the lead up to this, you are kept interested by trying to piece together the clues to unravel not only who the killer is, but also the victim. The structure also has you doubting whether the various point of view characters are telling the whole truth or not.
To be completely honest however, the first 130 pages or so are very stodgy, and it’s hard to settle in and immerse yourself in the story. Things start to take a turn around the 150 page mark, and it becomes really engrossing as secrets come tumbling out, the tension rises and cracks begin to show among the group. From here on in, you will want to devour the book as quickly as you can to get to the end and unmask the killer.
The Hunting Party is definitely one I would recommend if you are a fan of murder mysteries in a claustrophobic setting. There is only one thing that I found irritating about reading this book though, and it’s the way Heather, the hostess, constantly refers to the murder victim as “the Guest” in her chapters.
She explains it herself that it is her way of not forming attachments to the guests at the lodge, and it is used as a narrative technique in order to not reveal the person who has died to keep you guessing. But as her chapters are told from her point of you, as if we are reading her thoughts, it’s jarring to read because normally a person would not think in this way. We would usually think like ‘he died’, ‘she was killed’…not ‘the guest is dead’, ‘who killed the guest?’, etc. It could just be me nit picking, but I found it annoying as I was reading it, even though I understand why it was written in that way.
But, as I say, it was my only real complaint. Well, that and the fact the first 150 pages weren’t the most enticing read. But once you get past that, it’s a great one! Plus, Foley does a nice job of wrapping everything up at the end, but I felt like it could possibly lead to a follow up book the way it finishes too. So, be sure to get your hands on this one before any potential sequels hit the shelves.
Have you read The Hunting Party? What did you think? Let me know below!