How to Murder Your Friends During a Snowstorm: A Review of The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
Here we go! It’s time for part two of our Lucy Foley double feature!
Hello, and welcome to Reading Has Ruined My Life. My name’s Hannah and you have stumbled across the insanity that comes from my mind. Please enjoy your time here as I review The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.
Last time I reviewed a Lucy Foley mystery, I had no idea what I was doing; twas very hard to write about such a tightly woven mystery.
Thank you for that, Lucy Foley. This week I have some idea of what I am doing and can write about the mystery a little bit more. That’s not to say The Hunting Party is poorly written, or the mystery is bad, I’d just say it’s not as tightly woven as The Guest List.
So what is The Hunting Party about? As always a spoiler alert is in order. Be prepared if you don’t want this mystery spoiled.
Anyway, we have a large group of friends who travel to an isolated mountain lodge for their annual New Year’s Eve party. Our main players are Emma, Mark, Miranda, Katie, and Julien; all of them are part of this friend group. There are also two lodge employees, Doug and Heather, who readers spend time with. The friend group has a few other friends enjoying the vacation, but they really aren’t all that important to the story.
Our issue is, this group of friends has known each other since college, some since childhood, but they’re sadly drifting apart. They’re in their 30’s now, they’re getting old and like different things; they can't party all the time anymore, they have to pay their mortgages! Add in the fact that they’re all isolated in the countryside with a massive snowstorm on the way, shit just hits the fan. Secrets from long ago rear their ugly heads. Decades old friendships crumble into nothing. Oh, and there are these two weird people from Iceland that are also staying at the lodge who add creep factor to the story. I really didn’t like them. With all this going on, someone just might die. And someone does. Someone is murdered.
Once again, I will not spoil who it is who dies. The reveal is not until the tail end of the novel; I have learned that this is Foley’s way. Although, I had a very good idea of who it was that would end up dying this time around. I have a very strong love-hate relationship with the murder victim. I find them to be an extremely irritating character, but I do have to say they are a very strong willed character and I respect them for that.
Much like The Guest List, every character in The Hunting Party has a specific role to play and secrets to keep.
To start out with, we have Julien who is basically a grown fuckboy who can’t keep it in his pants.
Next there is his wife Miranda who is a woman that hasn’t outgrown her Queen Bee, party girl ways from college; she is the one to instigate all the fights and drama within the friend group. Miranda’s best friend is Katie. Those two have known each other since childhood. Katie is the exact opposite of Miranda. While Miranda is loud, boisterous, and has stayed in her college ways, Katie has become a successful lawyer who doesn’t need a man to get by, and, ya know, has become a functioning adult and member of society. Next up we have Mark who has always loved Miranda, and is ever so slightly envious of everything Julien has. Finally, there is Emma who is Mark’s girlfriend. She joined the friend group last. She’s still thought of as the newbie after many years of friendship.
As I mentioned previously, there are also Doug and Heather. They are employees of the lodge so they don’t fraternize with the friend group all too often, but they still have their roles to play. Heather is the general manager and is the one to make sure the weekend goes as smoothly as possible. She’s the main detective in the story. She’s the one who is detail oriented, notices when things are off, and is the one to solve the mystery before the cops show up. I will spoil the mystery ever so slightly now and say that Doug is a red herring. It’s fairly obvious so I don’t feel bad about spoiling that. He’s a former marine who suffers from PTSD and is harboring a massive secret, therefore, he’s perfect for this role. He does add a lot to the plot, but his main reason for being there is to be a red herring.
Speaking of red herrings, there are many of them in this mystery. I swear, every other chapter seems to introduce a new red herring; at least in the beginning, by the middle it kinda peters out. Since the murder doesn’t occur till the end of the book, and readers don’t learn who dies till then either, suspense has to come from somewhere though. And that suspense is simply creepy characters who make the others tense and readers feel awkward.
Most of the red herrings are pretty obvious. Hello again to the weird Icelandic couple that’s introduced just to be creepy. I don’t feel bad spoiling the fact that these two are red herrings either. You know from the moment you meet them that they are just included to be creepy; they’re nothing more than that. The book needed some unpleasant or unsettling moments caused by outside forces so Foley just shoehorned this pair in. They offer nothing to the plot. They just pop up from time to time and say weird things. I really could do without them.
I have to say the amount of red herrings The Hunting Party has is a downside to the book. They are either obvious and/or poorly done; I think at this point you can guess which one I’m talking about. There’s just too many of them. A good mystery should only have one or two; not twenty.
This is not to say this book is bad by any means. The mystery still keeps readers guessing. Foley constantly drops new secrets and clues throughout the course of the novel. So much drama happens that will certainly keep readers on the edge of their seats. This book is an interesting read. You will want to know what happens next. You will want to know who, if anyone, is able to forgive his or her old friends or if the bonds of friendship are broken forever. You will want to know who could go so far as to kill one of his or her oldest, dearest friends.
Honestly, the secrets and gossip this friend group has is my favorite part of the book. The tea is hot! It’s scalding! I honestly just love all the gossip in the book because some of it is just really petty but some of it is, for lack of a better term, bad. Like life shattering bad. So bad that you might as well change your name and move to another country so you don’t have to see the people you were once friends with bad. I just love the drama in this book. The tea is hot in this book, and I love it! I love it, love it, love it! Did I mention I love it!
Overall, this was a good book. I understand why people enjoy Foley’s work, they are definitely worth a read at least once. I can say for certain that The Hunting Party is a good closed-room mystery novel. If you read the last Lucy Foley review, then you know I prefer my mysteries to read as a CSI type crime procedural. While I do enjoy a good closed-room mystery novel from time to time, it’s not my favorite. I think that’s part of why I’ve come into both of these Lucy Foley reviews and have just been like, “yeah, the book’s alright.” Again, the book is good, I just find it to be “meh” and every so slightly overrated.
I’m sorry, I don’t really know what else to say other than the book is good. Once again, the mystery is tightly woven and there are moments that will leave you guessing. Like last time, I think if you like a good mystery novel then you will certainly like this one. It just wasn't my favorite type of mystery.
With that, I bid you all adieu. I shall see you next week with a new opinion piece that I think you'll all find interesting. Until then, stay safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, and read some good books for me. And if you enjoyed the insanity of my mind, then please make sure to follow Reading Has Ruined My Life’s Twitter @RHRMLBlog.