A remote Scottish Highland setting. A blizzard. A group of old friends. A Murder.
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
Although I was not hooked from the first page, I was drawn in after reading a big chunk of the novel. I think that the primary reason that I could not get into it was because quite frankly (and honestly), I just did not like many of the characters. I found the Oxford graduates and long time friends to be quite self-centred and although I think it is the vibe that Lucy Foley was going for, it was just not very relatable for me and I found it to be quite artificial!
With that being said, it was interesting to see how the dynamics of an old friendship group unfolded throughout their mandatory end of year celebrations.
“Remove all of the distractions, and here, in the silence and the solitude, the demons they have kept at bay catch up with them.”
I particularly enjoyed the multiple narration as we got to hear from several characters. I think that the narrative shifts from the past to the present worked well to keep the pace up and to create more tension between the characters. It is definitely a book about the characters, their development, and their secrets. So if that is the kind of vibe that you like from a thriller, you should pick this one up!
The book is very atmospheric and I feel that Lucy Foley not only captures the beauty but also the ominous nature of the Scottish Highland landscape. It is highly descriptive which brings the landscape to life. It is definitely a winter book to read by the fire!
“Some people, given just the right amount of pressure, taken out of their usual, comfortable environments, don’t need much encouragement at all to become monsters.”
The pace really started to pick up during the last third and I just could not put it down! Although I did guess who the victim was, I did not actually guess who the murderer was until just before the end which is a good sign!
This dark, murder mystery will keep you guessing. If you haven’t read it and you’re looking for a twisty thriller, I would recommend!
Rating – ★★★★