Don’t fall for the trap. Conceptually and thematically, The Hunting Party may feel like a lot like The Guest List, but there are a whole lot of differences too that sets this novel apart.
The Hunting Party revolves around a group of friends who all have a reunion at the hunting lodge up in the mountains in the Scottish wilderness.
Again, there are a range of memorable characters.
We have a married couple with a child. We have a single woman. We have the quiet one. We have the city boy and an outsider. We have the beautiful one and then we have the volatile one.
They encounter another man on their way up to the lodge, who turns out to be the hunter/ gamekeeper at the lodge. Then at the lodge, the group finds out there is an Icelandic couple living in the room behind the lodge- and they take a dislike to this couple. Then we have the manager of the lodge itself who the group warms up to.
Similarly as in The Guest List, someone is found dead. It’s not an accident as they discover the body. The marks on the body point to a murder.
Who among the group are not who they claim to be? Are these people really friendly with each other? Why do they pretend to be friends when deep down they resent each other? When is it not ok to continue to pretend you like your friends, when in reality you really hate them? And what is it that has caused such animosity and hatred between friends?
Foley has done it once again with creating such a riveting and thrilling book. I found myself turning the pages faster than I was reading in sheer anticipation of finding out who the killer is. That is the true strength of what sets a brilliant writer from an average writer.
The characters are all memorable and all of them are so well fleshed out. The ones with the least time in the book has enough of a back story to not allow us to feel they are just tag-alongs. Everyone has an important part. Everyone is vital to the murder scene. We get all these different perspectives from everyone, including the game keeper and the manager of the lodge. There are enough red herrings to throw us off, which makes this novel deliciously wicked.
This is a reunion among friends gone wrong. To write about such complex characters with such ease, narrating the time at the lodge from multiple perspectives, Foley has done a brilliant job.
The setting is intense. They are all stranded up in the lodge. The roads are closed due to the snow. The clouds and the rain and the howling wind create such an intense moment that it started to unsettle me.
There is no way out. So the killer couldn’t have left the premises. The killer is among them. The atmosphere feels suffocating and tight as the noose begins to tighten.
When someone does find out who the killer is, the tension is ratcheted up to the next level. I found myself panicking for the character who makes the discovery- but then again, is this person pretending that they are innocent? I found myself telling the characters to not do this, or to do that. There was just so much excitement with this book.
As much as I loved reading this book, The Guest List was a tad bit better for me in terms of its character and the pay off