Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: The Hunting Party

The Hunting Party The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What if there was an Agatha Christie style mystery, but without a Hercule Poroit or Miss Marple style character around to solve it?

A group of people in their 30s have been friends since their days at Oxford, and one of their traditions is having an annual get together over the New Year holiday. This year they go to an exclusive and remote Scottish hunting lodge. As a huge snowstorm moves in and cuts them off from the rest of the world, one of them is found dead. It’s obviously murder, and the list of suspects isn’t long.

This is a pretty standard set-up, but as I said at the start, the interesting thing is that there’s nobody really playing detective here. Instead the plot is unraveled via a series of shifting perspectives that also jump around in time from the trip to the lodge until the day after the murder. Slowly we start to get the whole picture of how this group is filled with secrets, old grudges, and several reasons not to trust each other. There’s also a few other people around like the strange couple from Finland, the manager of the lodge who has fled to this job as a way of not dealing with a recent tragic loss she’s suffered, and the surly gamekeeper who is a combat veteran suffering from PTSD which has left him with a hair trigger temper. So the suspect pool isn’t just limited to the Oxford buddies.

The structure of it is really the star of the show with author Lucy Foley doing a very good job of providing different voices to several characters who become the ones guiding us through the current story and histories. She pulls off several tricky things such as keeping the identity of the victim a secret for a good chunk of a book without seeming clunky so for a while we’re not ever sure who might be dead and who might be the killer. There’s a lot of red herrings in the mix which are necessary for a book like this although there are a few too many. However, none seem obvious, and it helps keep the reader from guessing which way the plot is going for a good long while.

The ending plays fair and has a satisfying answer, but again, there’s just a bit too much to all of it. I also had a big problem with the aftermath detailed in an extended epilogue in which the author seems to forget a couple of huge things from the climatic moment of the story when wrapping it all up.

Still, it’s a really solid mystery with some good character work. I’d give it 3 and half stars if I could, but… know. I also listened to the Audible version which had some great narrators doing various parts.

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