Lucy Foley’s first foray into crime fiction, The Hunting Party, centers around a group of friends who vacation together every year at New Year’s Eve. Deciding to stay in the Scottish Highlands at a very fancy cabin in the woods, the group expects that an expert will give them hunting lessons and allow them to practice their skills on the surrounding wildlife. The novel begins as a body is found on the estate, and it quickly becomes obvious that it’s a murder that one of the group must have committed.
I love locked room murders. There’s something especially chilling about coming to realize that the people around you, whom you have trusted to some degree or another, mean you harm. In this one, all the suspects are trapped together in this hunting lodge, a snowstorm has cut them off from the outside world, and the opportunity for a very suspenseful read is right there for the taking. Only then, it wasn’t. The characters were flat. I was happy reading the book for about a half the book becauseI felt as if I was getting to know the people and getting to know how they relate to each other. But once that introductory period was over, my feeling of satisfaction with the story and the characters diminished.
The characters never rose above the stereotypical: the Rich Girl, the Mean Girl, The Awkward One who doesn’t fit in, the Playboy. I wanted more complexity to their relationships with each other, and that never arrived. The author was also trying to disguise who dies, so she constantly refers to that person as the guest. That was tedious after awhile. I felt like this had a lot of potential but I wanted just a little bit more from it.