Thursday 4 June 2020

The Hunting Party

Finished May 31
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

This book is set just before an after New Year's at a remote, luxury estate in Scotland. The estate is part of a large property an hour's drive from town, but with its own railway station, apparently negotiated by the former laird in exchange for letting the railway line pass through the property. The current owner of the estate only rents out the property a few times a year, keeping it as a private residence the rest of the time. He lives in London and has a small staff that manages the property. They are a bit of an odd mix.
Doug has a past that he is still dealing with. He served in Afghanistan and was the only one of his team that survived an ambush. His story is gradually revealed as the plot unfolds. He takes the guests on deer stalking expeditions and does other odd jobs around the place. Heather, the manager of the property is also a woman running from something and you only gradually learn her story as well. The other full time employee is a local man, Ian, who lives in town most of the time.
The guests are a group of thirty-somethings, most of them long-time friends from college. Emma, the most recent addition to the group, has arranged the annual trip they get together on. She is eager to be accepted, particularly by the most beautiful of the women, Miranda, and hopes this trip will do it. Miranda is a woman who knows the power of her beauty and likes to have friends who she can take on as projects. She is married to Julien, an investment banker, a handsome man who seems to be growing more distant from her, and there have been difficulties in their relationship lately. Mark is Julien's friend and Emma's boyfriend. He has had a crush on Miranda for years, and Emma knows it. Katie is Miranda's oldest friend, a woman with a working class background that Miranda befriended when they were schoolgirls. She is a lawyer, single and harbouring some kind of secret.
Samira was one of Miranda's roommates in college and she and her husband Giles have their infant baby Priya with them. The baby has lessened the contact they've had with Miranda and Julien lately and Miranda misses their closeness. Nick was closer to Katie in college and he's brought his partner, an American man named Bo. Nick isn't a huge fan of Miranda, for reasons that go back a fair ways.
As the group settles into the cabins near the main lodge, they find out there are others staying at the estate, an Icelandic couple staying at a bunkhouse near the far end of the loch.
There are various interactions, celebratory and not, and an underlying tension that most of them sense. When someone goes missing, and is found dead, after a massive snowfall, Heather and Doug must try to find them while waiting for the weather to clear so the police can get there.
The book opens with the discovery of the body, but it takes some time before the reader finds out who the body is. This book has lots of suspense and tension, and many stories that only get revealed gradually. A page-turner of a read.

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