The Hunting Party
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
This is yet another book that I purchased with a birthday gift card. I love a good mystery, and this one appealed to me as soon as I heard about it.
(I’ve seen comparisons to The Secret History, and I’d say that I agree somewhat, at least in the sense that I found most of these characters pretentious, annoying, and rude. I didn’t see much else in the way of similarities, but it’s been about five years since I read The Secret History.)
The setting was great: cold, remote, isolated. It contributed to the tense atmosphere, and I really enjoyed the way details of the characters’ lives and relationships to each other were slowly teased out. There was such a contrast between the group of friends’ outward appearance, and what was really going on. And after so many years and life changes, I kept wondering if these people even liked each other any more.
The mystery was really well done. The story moves back and forth in time, gradually revealing the victim’s identity and how they died. It was a little confusing at first, but after a few chapters I was used to it.
Alongside the actual mystery, the characters had all sorts of secrets from each other that were slowly revealed too, which was so much fun to read!
This was a really fun, absorbing read. I think it’s one of the better mysteries I’ve read so far this year!