“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.”
“There is something unnerving about the isolation, knowing how far we are from everything.”
Seven university friends come together at Loch Corrin, a remote inn in the highlands of Scotland on an estate of fifty thousand acres. It is year end 2018 and they intend to see the New Year in together as is their usual custom.
Miranda and Julien Adams – Never overly clever, Miranda uses her looks and bold behavior to manipulate others. Back at Oxford University, Miranda was the gregarious one. The life of the party. Beautiful, she could have any man she chose. Her choice was Julien, a handsome stock trader with an overwhelming need to be liked by everyone.
Katie Lewis – Back in university, Katie was the quiet one. A friend of Miranda, she was always in Miranda’s shadow. Now, in her early thirties, she is a corporate lawyer in London. Busy at work, she has less time for Miranda than she once did.
Emma and Mark – Mark was a member of the original group of Oxford uni friends and now works in advertising. Emma, his girlfriend of only the past three years is late joining the group and often feels like an interloper… In an effort to fit in, Emma emulates Miranda in dress and makeup. She is the one who organized this year’s holiday and she is a good organizer and an excellent cook. She works for a literary agency.
Samira and Giles – Giles is the clown of the group, always fooling around to entertain his friends. Giles now works as a doctor. Samira, once a fun-loving daredevil, is now a mother to a six-month old baby girl and has settled down into motherhood.
Nick and Bo – (the only gay couple in the group) Nick Manson was at Oxford with the others and now works as an architect. His partner, Bo, is an American now working for the BBC.
“That’s the thing about old friends, isn’t it? Sometimes they don’t even realize that they no longer have anything in common. That maybe they don’t even like each other anymore.”
The employees of the Inn at Loch Corrin:
Heather – a former paramedic, Heather has experienced great loss in her life and has come to Loch Corrin to get away from all the people she once knew. She treats the remote estate as her refuge, relishing her solitude.
Doug – handsome, rugged, solitary, and an ex-marine. Doug has had a traumatic past, one he doesn’t want to share with anyone… he feels he is a bad person. Although attracted to Heather, he will never act upon his feelings because he feels that she should be protected from him. Doug has severe migraines and occasionally experiences fugue states. He becomes conscious not knowing what he might have done when he suffers these blackouts…. He now works as the gamekeeper at Loch Corrin.
Iain – Unlike Doug and Heather, Iain does not live on the estate. He travels to work from a small neighbouring village. He works as a handyman.
For me, there is nothing like a murder mystery/thriller set in a remote location. The whole closed environment, the limited number of possible killers…
Lucy Foley’s “The Hunting Party” ticked all the boxes for me. A remote Scottish setting made even more isolated by a winter snowstorm. A circle of university friends that have little in common anymore but are trying to maintain the facade/habit of friendship. Two damaged and solitary characters who run the inn in which the story takes place.
And of course, a murder. Just who is the victim – we wait a fair while to find out. Then who could have killed? Could it be one of their own?
The writing held me entranced. “There is a silence here that is different to the silence on the rest of the estate. It’s like a held breath. It feels – as clichéd as this might sound – as though we are not alone. As though something, someone, is watching us.”
The setting and the isolation made for a tense and atmospheric feel. So many characters, yet it didn’t take long to discern one from another due to the excellent, concise, characterization. The friend dynamic is always so interesting. What makes one person befriend another? Is there always a ‘leader’ and a ‘follower’? Is this healthy? Do you ever really know your friends? Or, do you only know what they choose to share with you?
The plot moved along at a good pace and contained more than a few twists. All plausible, so all the more enjoyable.
Secrets, lies, betrayals, “The Hunting Party” had them all – in spades. Highly recommended!
I received a complimentary digital copy of “The Hunting Party” from William Morrow/Harper Collins via Edelweiss.
Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.
Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.
An avid painter, Lucy now writes full time and lives in London, England.
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