In a tradition that started a decade ago in their Oxford days, a group of friends spends every New Year together. Emma, the newest member of the group, has planned the perfect getaway to a luxury lodge in the Scottish Highlands, called Loch Corrin. As the only one without the common ties to the past, Emma finally hopes the lodge will be the key to her being fully accepted into the group. Isolated and serene, the destination seems the perfect place for the group to reconnect and unwind.
However, with so much history comes many secrets, and the evolving group dynamics introduce a tension which the champagne and music can’t seem to break. When one of the group goes missing during a snowstorm, the friends are on edge. When the body is finally found, the police can’t make it to the lodge in the blizzard, and the group is trapped with a killer. With a murderer among them, the friends have no idea which of them is guilty.
The Hunting Party is intrigue and suspense from the first page. Through a great narrative and impressive visuals, Foley immediately creates vivid scenery and characters that are exceptional and tangible – with flaws and imperfections nestled carefully behind perfectly knotted ties, and perfectly applied lipstick. With secrets a shared tether, the loss of one of the group threatens to unravel everything. The connections between the friends have become superficial and aged, and each of them have a reason to kill.
It seems crass to say a murder can be exciting, but Foley has done just that – brought excitement back to the crime thriller. Through a narrative that is carefully split between before and after the murder and the myriad views of the characters, we are left as uncertain about the culprit as the group of friends themselves. This tension builds throughout the novel as more transgressions are revealed, colouring the entire group a murky shade of guilty. Foley beautifully illustrates that growing up isn’t always easy, or pretty, and that a friendship comprises more than just shared history.
In a style akin to Agatha Christie, Foley has penned a delicious thriller that you will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Dark, gritty and full of surprise, this is one of the best reads of the year.
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is published by Harper Collins, and is available in South Africa from Jonathan Ball Publishers.