Published by HarperCollins 24th January 2019 / 400 pages
Opening sentence: “I see a man coming through the falling snow.”
It’s no secret that I love a bit of Agatha Christie so when I kept seeing reviews of The Hunting Party saying that in plot and tone it evoked the great lady herself, I couldn’t wait to give it a read. In that sense, The Hunting Party is murder mystery 101, it ticks all the boxes. Set in an isolated luxury lodge in the snowy Scottish highlands, a group of nine friends go there to spend New Year’s Eve; they are Oxford University alumni, each with a back story and secrets. Add in two other random guests from Iceland that no-one knows much about and three lodge employees who all have more to their characters than first meets the eye and you have the perfect blend to create just the right level of intrigue and suspense. As lodge manager, Heather says, ‘Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don’t need much encouragement at all to become monsters.’
We are told in the prologue that someone has been murdered, then the narrative jumps between the present and back to the preceding few days to tantalisingly reveal the story. Not only that, five characters – Heather, Doug, Miranda, Katie and Emma – are given their own chapters throughout the book. This might seem like a lot of plates to be spinning, but it never felt confused or cluttered, Lucy Foley skilfully uses these devices to give us multiple points of view, move the story along at a perfect pace and add a pulse of suspense that beats loudly through every chapter.
The Agatha Christie comparisons are richly deserved, you know one of the characters is murdered, but are kept guessing throughout a majority of the read as to who the victim is, let alone who the murderer is. Not only that, the ending throws up a few twists I was not expecting, which really upped the pace for the last quarter and left me wishing it wasn’t all over when I reached the final page. This is a truly great and satisfying murder mystery that you need to add to your TBR list!