Old friends, isolated locations and secrets abound in this atmospheric and gripping murder mystery reminiscent of many an Agatha Christie.
They go away every year together to celebrate the New Year. Seven old friends off to explore the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. This year only six will come back.
I haven’t read a thriller which hooks me quite so thoroughly straight away in a long time, but The Hunting Partyis such a perfect murder mystery I couldn’t help but race through it in two days! For a fan of Agatha Christie the setting and story seem at once familiar, settling you into a rhythm of intrigue and murder that the mistress of crime would be proud of. The premise is simple and one we know very well; old friends, isolated location and plenty of secrets, but Foley tells it in a way that immediately grips you like a vice. You find out pretty early on that there’s a body in the snow, but who, how or why is gradually revealed through the course of the book. You flip between characters and dates giving a disjointed narrative in a good way, which trips you up and subverts your deductions as you go along. You learn that you really can’t trust anyone.
There’s no central ‘detective’ to follow which also adds to the overall atmosphere of distrust. Each chapter is told by a different character, the majority of which are in the first person, so you get a glimpse into their thoughts, perception of the others, and perception of themselves. However, as more is revealed you begin to learn that every narrator is fallible and all may not be as it seemed earlier. Added into this mix are the jumps in time, going from ‘present’ (which is after the murder) to the preceding days. In this way everyone becomes a suspect, including the victim, as you don’t know who it is that is dead at the start.
The pace of the novel is phenomenal, with Foley dropping in cliff-hangers, building tension and layering brittle tensions throughout. Each narrative has you gasping for more, and Foley has you switching between empathy and suspicion trying to guess who the guilty party is. There are clues and red herrings everywhere, with motives coming at you from all directions, so get ready to flex those little grey cells to figure out who the killer is! My only qualm with the plot is that I worked out who and why relatively early on, but I would say that the twists thrown in had me second guessing myself on that deduction.
This is a must-read for any fans of Agatha, and the perfect thriller to read by the fire in the snow.
The Hunting Party is published by HarperCollins and is available here.
Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote her debut, The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling (for research, naturally!) and working on her next novel.
Reviewed by Amber Mears Brown
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