The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my review first.
A group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students 10 years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands. 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.
Let’s keep track of all the characters:
- Heather: the lodge manager
- Doug: the caretaker
- Miranda: the friend who is always center of attention
- Katie: Miranda’s quiet best friend
- Julien: Miranda’s husband
- Emma: the newish friend and Mark’s girlfriend
- Mark: the ‘tough’ guy
- Nick: the gay friend from college
- Bo: Nick’s boyfriend
- Samira: the only mom of the group
- Giles: Samira’s husband
Let’s get into the discussion questions
- There’s plenty of untold resentments between this group of friends. Why do you think they keep the tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together?
- We read the book from the perspectives of Doug, Heather, Miranda, Katie and Emma. Why do you think the author chose those characters to narrate the story?
- Why do you think Emma picked that isolated location in the Scottish Highlands?
- We learn that Miranda has a stalker. Did you think it was Mark at first? Did you have any idea it was Emma?
- What was Emma’s end-goal? Just to be close to Miranda? To turn herself into a version of Miranda? What do you think was her motivation?
- Miranda is used to being the center of attention and desired by all. But as soon as she feels attention is starting to wane, she acts out in cruel ways. For example, trying to embarrass Katie in middle school by pointing out she didn’t have her period yet. And sometimes she’s just mean because she can be: for instance, outing Nick to his parents and not caring about the consequences. But she also could show loyalty by standing up to a girl who was trying to bully Katie in school. What did you make of Miranda? Is she selfish and cruel with some flashes of decency? Or is she simply just a bully?
- What did you think about Heather and Doug storylines? Did you suspect Doug was the killer at some point? Now that Heather is moving back home, do you think Doug will visit her?
- Let’s talk about the affair between Katie and Julien. Obviously, he’s a sleaze but what was going on with Katie there? Did she sleep with him as revenge against Miranda? What about the reveal that Katie is pregnant – what were you thoughts? Will Julien have any involvement with his kid?
- Who did you think at first was murdered? Did that change as the story went on? What about who was the murderer? Did you suspect Emma or was that a surprise?
- What did you think overall about the ending?
More thriller recommendations
Thrillers always produce plenty of discussion! Here are some more recommendations. (Click the titles or photos to purchase from Amazon.)
An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is an thrilling story of cat-and-mouse. The story follows Jessica Farris, a struggling makeup artist in NYC. On a whim, she agrees to be a test subject in a psychological study about ethics and morality. But as the study moves from the exam room to the real world, the line between what is real and what is one of Dr. Shields’s experiments blurs. Dr. Shields perfect image is well-crafted and while at first it seems she has Jessica’s best interests at heart, it starts to become apparent that lines are being crossed. Caught in a web of attraction, deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge is another one about a group of friends and a murder. The story is about a teen girl, Aurora, who goes missing after a night of partying in 1983. Thirty years later, the discovery of her body reopens a cold case and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving it. Back in 1983, Jonah was a young cop in the small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’ investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead.