With its atmospheric setting, psychological plot twists and character-driven storyline, THE HUNTING PARTY by Lucy Foley is an Agatha Christie-inspired that keeps you guessing right until the very end
With Christmas fast approaching, the book on everyone’s lips at the moment is THE HUNTING PARTY. The debut novel by Lucy Foley is causing quite a stir in blogger circles, not only for its striking cover design (nicely done HarperCollins) but also for its twisty, atmospheric Agatha Christie-style story.
Set over a 48 hour period, THE HUNTING PARTY follows a group of nine Oxford-educated friends who decide to celebrate the New Year in a lodge in the remote Scottish Highlands. As the curtain falls on another year and the celebrations begin, the friends begin to catch up old times, reminiscing over past stories and scratching old wounds. But the clock has barely struck 12 when a broken body is found in the snow and it isn’t an accident. As a thick blizzard descends, the group are suddenly trapped, meaning no-one can get in or out – not even the killer.
From the opening prologue to the chilling finale, THE HUNTING PARTY sucks you in with its atmospheric and descriptive writing, mysterious characters and fractured friendships. The drama starts off innocently enough as the friends settle into the lodge and begin to catch up but it soon becomes clear that beneath the jollity and apparent closeness of the friends are old rivalries, injured feelings, resentment and jealousy.
In many ways, it is easy to see why Foley’s debut has been described as an “Agatha Christie-inspired thriller”. The isolating setting, crafty plot twists and character-driven storyline is certainly reminiscent of the Queen of Crime. In a neat narrative twist, Foley takes this one step further by keeping the identity of the victim hidden until the very end of the book. We know it’s a member of the Oxford hunting party but we’re not sure who.
Odd then that Foley has also chosen to make the characters so unlikeable. From the snooty Miranda to the pretentious Nick, every one of the Oxford group is self-opinionated, self-interested and self-centred. Even Heather, the Lodge Manager and Doug, the sinister Gamekeeper are hardly warming characters. Despite this fact, we still get drawn into the narrative, as the perspective shifts from various members of the group and the timeline flits back and forth over the previous 48 hours.
It also doesn’t take away from the story which is well-crafted, brilliantly atmospheric and deliciously twisty. Foley writes with an air of menace, setting the scene in the most beautiful yet harsh of locations, the remote Scottish Highlands carrying its own dangers with freezing conditions and snow blizzards. You are also kept guessing right until the very end, adding in enough red herrings and psychological twists to make everyone a suspect.
If you’re a fan of old-fashioned murder mysteries with a modern twist, THE HUNTING PARTY should certainly be on your Christmas wish list. An assured debut by Foley, who no doubt will grow to become a firm favourite with crime aficionados up and down the country.
THE HUNTING PARTY by Lucy Foley is released via HarperCollins UK on 3 December 2018
Donna is the Founder and Editor of Frankly, My Dear UK. By day, she works as a digital marketing specialist, by night she reviews film, theatre and music for a wide range of publications including WhatsonStage and The Reviews Hub. Loves Formula 1, prosecco and life.