The Hunting Party (2018) by Lucy Foley

Nine friends who have always spent New Year together have outdone themselves this time. An isolated group of cottages in the remote Highlands of Scotland. And while tensions can run a little high, it’s nothing new between old friends.

Three days later, and the manager of the resort, Heather, has a crisis on her hands. A body has been found – one of the guests – and the only person she should be able to trust, the local in charge of hunting, is behaving oddly.

And if there’s a body, there must also be a murderer…

A new release from Harper Collins, this is the first thriller from Lucy Foley, who has written three historical novels before this. Inspired in part from visiting the location in which the book is set, this is very much in the vein of the modern unreliable narrator narrative. And if that’s your thing, then this is a well-constructed read.

It’s described in the blurb as a cross between The Secret History and And Then There Were None. I can’t comment on the first comparison but in terms of the second one… nope, no comparison. There’s an isolated setting but if you’re looking for a massacre, then look elsewhere.

There’s a single murder and if anything, this resembles Towards Zero (a bit) as it is only at the end that the murderer and the victim are revealed. The narrative in the pre-crime section (the majority of the book) alternates between the three main female guests and the post-crime section between the manager and the hunter.

What irked me a bit about this one was that despite how well it was written, with the five distinct voices working very well to reveal the big picture, at the end of the day, nothing seemed particularly surprising in the revelations. The murderer and victim were obvious to me from about the halfway point and while there are some twists in the motivations, the surprises become more limited when a significant number of the cast – four of the friends, the two random extras, the rumours of the Highland Ripper – rapidly fade into the background as everything circles around five of the guests, namely the narrators and two of their partners. Which leaves only a finite number of possibilities. And there’s a really odd red-herring section in the present day…

All in all, I found this pretty unsatisfying regarding the plot.Character-wise, it was strong, but for me at least (and Amazon reviewers seem to disagree, with 4.3/5) this needed a better twist for it to be a satisfying thriller.

Availability: The Hunting Party was released on 3rd December 2018 as an ebook and a hardback.

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