Who doesn’t love a closed set mystery? Where the crime, in this instance a murder, is committed and for some reason (fire, snow, hurricane…whatever) everyone is forced to stay in the one place knowing that the culprit is amongst them. ‘The Hunting Party’ uses this device effectively. It begins with each character’s viewpoint as they travel on the train towards a remote Scottish hunting lodge, where they are assured of fully catered private luxury. This group of Oxford friends has money to splash and expectations of the trip are high. Upon arrival at the lodge we also become privy to the perspectives of the two staff members who naturally have their own secrets.
Like any set of friends, there will be alliances and differences and in this case, a very long intertwined past. And someone with one hell of a grudge. Enough to kill. But which one? I loved the way each character had a motive and a reason for not liking another in the
group, as trivial or as significant as the reason was. The evening frivolities begin, wine and cheese are consumed (press repeat) but when the snow sets in they are truly cut off from the rest of the world. The sense of isolation and oppression becomes palpable. All of a
sudden everything is innuendo and I knew as I was reading each perspective that one of them would be the murderer. But which one? I kept thinking and rethinking what each had revealed about themselves. Could I identify the killer?
‘The Hunting Party’ plays with some stereotypes of characters yet does present others in a deeper, more fully dimensional manner that explores whether we can ever really be free from our past experiences. It was cold, dark, wet and sinister and the mountains behind the lodge seemed to hunch over them all with malicious intent, almost like another character. Yet it was not the mountains that proved the source of challenge but living with each other and keeping up the mask of civility when inside one of them a rage tornado was brewing. I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery, intensified by the Scottish setting that highlighted just how complicated we can all be. And really, how long can you grow a grudge before it bears fruit?
Reviewed by Belinda