Wednesday, July 5, 2023

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party
by Lucy Foley
Published February 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
10 hours, 8 minutes
Read by Gary Furlong, Elle Newlands, Imogen Church

Publisher's Summary: 
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. 

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, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

My Thoughts: 
It's probably not a good selling point for this book if I tell you that a week after finishing it, I couldn't remember what book I had listened to prior to my current listen. I'm pretty sure that's not the way you're supposed to feel after finishing a murder mystery. That will make even less sense to you after you read on and find that I was completely surprised by the ending. 

Nine friends (four couples and a friend who feels very much like the odd girl out), a couple of other guests (unexpected by the party who expected to have the place to themselves) and the small staff of Loch Corrin find themselves snowed in...just as one of the guests goes missing. Almost every is a suspect and Foley has given us plenty of reason to suspect each of them, as she moves back and forth between first person narrators and in time between the days leading up to the murder and the day the body is discovered. We soon learn that there's also a serial killer on the loose in the Highlands, which seems like every bit the red herring that you surely know without me telling you it is. On the other hand, who is the mysterious person several people have seen out in the hills? 

It didn't take long for me to really begin to dislike most of these characters and to wonder why in the world they would hang out together at all, let alone vacation together. Still, it takes a lot to decide to off someone, especially someone who's been a friend, knowing that the suspect pool is limited. So I pretty quickly decided I had solved the mystery of who the killer was; I just didn't know who the victim was. 

Gradually Foley begins to narrow down the suspects and I was happy to discover that a couple of people I liked better were in the clear. More and more I was certain I knew who the killer was and when it looked like I felt quite proud of myself. But there was too much time left in the book. And you know how bad I am at predicting the killer in a murder mystery. Then, when the victim was revealed, I felt certain that my new prime suspect was the killer. Then, boom! Foley completely took me by surprise and then again with the way she ended the book. And it was so good. 

So why couldn't I remember the book a week after finishing it? I can't tell you. As soon I looked to see which book I'd finished, I did remember the details of the book. A lot of this one is predictable and the characters are pretty two-dimensional; but that ending, for me at least, made up for a lot of the faults I found in the rest of the book. 

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