Upon hearing the premise of The Hunting Party I was instantly excited and intrigued. It’s a murder mystery set in the Scottish Highlands. And guess where your girl lives? Well…not quite in the Highlands, but Scotland! I kind of felt, reading the synopsis, that it was going to be a more grown up version of One Of Us Is Lying and I’m not entirely wrong!
The Hunting Party is a grown-up murder mystery of the whodunnit sub genre. It’s dark in premise, gritty in places and sexually charged but not gratuitous.
The beginning of The Hunting Party is actually really confusing. We’re instantly introduced to a large handful of characters, each with different relationship statuses, personalities and appearances and trying to get to grips with who everyone is and how they know each other is absolutely exhausting and frustrating in the beginning. It was a really off-putting way to start the story.
I quickly found myself not liking any of the characters. At all. I know we aren’t supposed to like all of them, but when I hate all of them then I don’t care what happens to them. I don’t care who is sleeping with who, whose friendships fall apart or even who lives or who dies.
Samira and her husband, as well as the Icelandic couple, were completely unnecessary characters and I feel like they were added for filler and shock value, in that order. In all honesty, there were far too many characters and too many of them were easily interchangeable with each other.
However, the settings were quite well done. The author really captured the claustrophobia you can experience whilst in an open, but isolated, space perfectly.
Having said that, the novel was 400 pages and some of it just wasn’t needed and could have been served better by fleshing out side stories or being cut completely and making the novel shorter and more to the point. It just baffles me how 400 pages can go by, yet I still found aspects incredibly rushed. Attention was given to parts of the story that didn’t need it, and we didn’t get it where we really needed it. In the interest of not spoiling the plot I can’t go too in-depth about this, and I can’t say too much without giving the plot away. What I can say without spoiling anything however, is that I feel like the side plots (such as the drug trafficking) needed to be either fleshed out or completely cut. There wasn’t enough meat on the bones.
The problem with The Hunting Party is that I feel like I’ve read it before. It seems very Agatha Christie in the sense of the plot: a private party in a secluded area, guests are trapped by a freak of nature, one of them is the killer…stop me if you’ve heard this before. Now there’s nothing wrong with several books having a similar story line (like the aforementioned One Of Us Is Lying) but it only works if the novel can bring something new to the story, and I’m not sure that The Hunting Party did.
Also, I don’t mind red herrings in thrillers, but you could fill an aviary with how many there were in this book! The reveals were predictable, even though it felt like the author was trying to trick me. Sorry, I’m not falling for it.
Please let me say this: The Hunting Party is not a bad book, it’s just a bit predictable if you’ve read more than two murder mysteries in your life.
It’s a debut novel, and yeah –you can tell. But the writing was sound for the most part, it’s just predictability and characters that the author needs to work on. Either way, it’s a promising start.
Are you ready to join the hunt? You can buy The Hunting Party here with FREE worldwide delivery!
[PLEASE NOTE]: I was not paid or sponsored to write this review – all the opinions are honest and my own.