In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather.
The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
Not an accident – a murder among friends.
A well-off group of friends, who have known each other since university, are travelling to Scotland for a New Year gathering. Having known each other since their days at Oxford, they are all managing a few days together away from their high paid, stressful jobs and spoilt lifestyles.
They have also been joined by Nick’s boyfriend Bo and Mark’s girlfriend Emma, who has arranged this holiday. Desperate to please everyone in a hope to feel more a part of this group of friends. As a ‘new comer’ she is still viewed as an outsider.
The accommodation is a private residence only open to guests a few times a year. Set in the isolated Scottish Highlands it is an exclusive Lodge set next to Loch Corri with private cabins for each set of guests. As the guests arrive we are also introduced to the two members of staff that work at the Lodge, Heather and Doug, each with reasons of their own for working in such an isolated and lonely setting.
The book is split into chapters narrated by each character and takes place between Dec 30th and Jan 2nd. The story follows the friends arrival and then moves backwards and forwards between before and after one of the guests goes missing and the discovery of their dead body.
This was a 3 star read for me as although there were elements I enjoyed, particularly in the last 3rd of the book, I found I lost a little interest in the middle section as I found the characters dislike for one another became a little tiresome. For a group of friends, who have known each other for some time, there didn’t seem to be much love between them all and I began to wonder why they bothered meeting up at all. This of course may well have been intentional, indeed, the story line is dependent on the characters dynamics and interactions between themselves, but I was left unsure whether any of them ever liked each other in the first place! This all in turn meant I didn’t engage as much with this part of the story which was a shame as their history plays an integral part in what happens to the group during their New Year break.
They clearly have very little friendship left and as we read of their secrets, mistakes and bad habits, there is a lot of excessive drinking, there is really very little good that can possibly come out of this get together.
I enjoyed the closed room element of this story and you could most certainly feel the dislike, jealousy and even hatred coming from some of the characters. The setting was used effectively, in particular, The Lodge and the weather, but would have liked to have gotten more of a feel for the wider environment. Where I found the friends very, very sallow, the characters of Heather and Doug I did like and found these two to be much more believable and likeable characters. I enjoyed the chapters from Heather the most.
The pace of the story was well done and the chapters flipping from before and after the discovery of the body worked very well to keep the suspense and thrill moving. You know from early on that someone dies but you are constantly finding out more and more secrets behind the crime leaving you to fit them altogether like a jigsaw. The characters dislike for one another made them unreliable narrators and this also worked at keeping you guessing throughout with what you as a reader could believe. Although I had guessed some of the mystery there was still a number of twists that I didn’t see coming. In fact the last third of the book was a great read and had a satisfying ending with the bigger pictured fully revealed. I’d bought the hard back of this some time ago and it had been sitting on my shelf since then. Although it didn’t end up being the thriller of the year, I still found it an OK read.