Year of publication: 2019
Publisher: HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd
Strong Point: The way the author tells the story in “The Hunting Party” with continuous flashbacks to the past of the characters and to the last three days, makes the story even more interesting.
Furthermore, we learn about the story and the characters from the point of view of the characters themselves.
Thanks to this technique, we are able to see the different facets of each person.
Weak Point: I ended up disliking every single character, except perhaps Heather, the person in charge of the lodge. There is nothing in all the characters you can really enjoy.
Nonetheless, I really don’t mind, but I just find this quite curious.
Furthermore, I do not completely understand why the author decided that the characters should address the reader directly, as if they were telling their stories to an “audience”.
Books on Tour Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5)
Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.65/5)
WHAT IT SAYS IN THE BLURB:
New Year’s Eve, The Loch Corrin Estate.
The Hogmanay celebrations are in full flow, nine old friends swapping stories and revealing in forgotten memories. Yet secretly, the group know they no longer have anything in common except shared history, deep old wounds…and friendship-destroying secrets.
As a thick blizzard descends and the clock strikes twelve, a broken body is found in the snow. The group are trapped and all signs are pointing to murder.
No-one can get in. And no-one can get out.
Not even the killer.
Heather – She is the person in charge of the lodge. She went to live there after she experienced some trauma in Edinburgh, where she used to live. She is escaping from that tragedy and wants to live in isolation.
Doug – The gamekeeper. An introvert man who is there escaping from some violent incident which had happened in his past.
Consequently, he does not want more contact than needed with the rest of the people. He only feels some respect and admiration fro Heather.
He had fought in the war with the Marines, where some other incident happened. This left a profound mark on him. From this trauma, he experiences PTSD.
Emma – She is the one who organized the hunting lodge party. She only became part of the group three years ago, when she started going out with Mark. She always feels excluded, as the group is quite close and she does not share the history the others have in common.
Mark – Emma’s girlfriend. A quiet weird guy who behaves quite harshly with people.
Katie – She is a London Lawyer in a top company and the only one who has not a couple. In addition, Katie is the best friend of Miranda, whose friendship goes way back to when they were children. She seems to be experiencing some kind of personal problem that no one knows about.
Nick – Katie’s best friend. He is at the party with his boyfriend Bo.
Bo – Nick’s boyfriend. He is American and does not form part of the original Oxford group. He used to be a drug addict but he has recovered.
Miranda – She is married to Julien whom she met while studying in Oxford. She doesn’t work, but she has tried several jobs without success. A magnet for men, she likes to flirt with them and she loves to be the centre of attention.
Julien – Miranda’s husband. A good-looking guy who always seems to need more of everything. His relationship with Miranda seems to be perfect. They are called “the golden couple”.
Samira & Giles – They have just had a baby, Priya. She used to be the best friend of Miranda & Katie but right now her whole time is spent taking care of her baby.
An Icelandic couple, Ingvar & Kristin (Gudrun) – The two only guests apart from the group of friends who are staying in the lodge.
They were not supposed to stay there at the time, but there had been a mistake with the booking. They have a weird or eccentric behaviour, especially the man.
The scenery – I feel that the surroundings, the landscape is in itself another character, one which is wrapping them all together, sinister, wild, but also beautiful.
It does not let them go nor escape and isolates them from the outside.
The Hunting Party narrates the story of a group of old friends in their thirties who, every year, spend New Year’s Eve together, celebrating the holiday and catching up with their old friendship.
This year is Emma, the newest member of the group and the girlfriend of Julien, who is organizing the gathering. As a result, they will all spend some days together in an exclusive hunting lodge next to Loch Corrin, located in the Scottish Highlands at the foot of the Munro mountain.
From the first pages the reader knows that the gamekeeper has found a corpse with signs of violence. The dead person is one of the guests. The macabre discovery happens in the present time, January 2nd, 2019.
In the light of this discovery, Heather, the lodge manager, calls the police. However, there is a heavy snow storm which isolated them from the outside world and the police would take some time to come.
From now on, the story will jump back and forth between the present time, the far past of the characters and the last past three days.
The narration continues unraveling the past history of the characters from the different points of view mainly of the female characters, with the exception of Doug (why is this done like this? I don’t have any well-founded explanation). Through their narrations, the readers can reconstruct their friendship.
On the other hand, we can sense that appearances are deceptive. These friends do not know each other so well as they want to make us believe at the beginning of the book.
Likewise, they hide some secrets (some of them quite dark) that come to light during the narration of the events, as well as disloyalties, falseness, betrayals, etc.
Similarly, there seems to be something off: they are not so happy in the company of each other. It seems, the only thing that united them all is the shared past experiences.
Meanwhile, we learn about the past lives of Doug and Heather and how they ended up living in such an isolated place.
Additionally, we learn about the weird behaviour of the other guests, the Icelandic couple; about the taciturn Iain (the handyman of the lodge), and a serial killer who is on the loose.
I must add that I would have appreciated a little bit more of development in the characters of the Icelandic couple!!
Funnily, who the victim is, is not revealed to the reader until the very end of the book.
Eventually, we can read an explanation of the motives of the killer for committing the crime.
After that, it follows a small afterword where we catch up with the present lives of the characters once they leave the lodge and come back to their lives and routines. In my opinion, “The Hunting Party” is an “update” to the old “locked-room” Agatha Christie mystery stories and it is not inferior to them.
Not to mention, it is a page-turner until the very end of the book. Foley does an excellent job in interweaving the different points of view of the characters in the different past times with the present.
Nonetheless, with this technique, it could have been complicated to follow, but somehow the author has managed marvellously to tell the story very clearly and without being chaotic.
To summarise, it is true that almost all characters are hideous. However, this makes “The Hunting Party” more enjoyable.
Moreover, we all like to gossip about the lives of other people, especially if we know these people from a long time ago, right?
Unfortunately, one of them ends up dead and the killer is only uncovered at the end of the book. Nevertheless, every single one of them could have been the killer, which shows the reader how hateful all of them are.