RATING – 3/5
I had to read this one, I am a sucker for a closed room mystery and with this one set in a remote location in the Scottish highlands during a snowstorm.. I was sold!
And yet I have mixed feelings about it. I love the plot and the setting. A group of thirtysomething friends from their days in Oxford have a tradition of celebrating New Years together. And this year it’s at an isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands, an exclusive hunting lodge nestled by a loch. As they get snowed in by a terrible storm, one of them turns up murdered. To top it all there is also a serial killer loose in the general vicinity. This book had all the makings of a gripping ‘whodunnit’ but somewhere along the line it got predictable, also the question posed in the book is more who got murdered rather than who did the killing as the victim is revealed only towards the end. Also it didn’t help that the majority of the characters in the book were thoroughly despisable.
Nine friends ( four couples and a singleton), a gameskeeper and a lodge manager. Friends is not the most accurate term to describe the group, frenemies would be more on point. The Oxford group come across as a mean spirited, elitist group with deep seated resentments against one another that has only grown with time and distance. The whole lot of them are so self centered that you will be hard fought to find even one to root for. But it made for some good reading, all that snark and underlying emotions played for some first rate drama. The entire story is told in the form of POV chapters from only five of the main characters. I threw in my lot with the gameskeeper and the lodge manager since they came across as the more sincere of the lot and by the end of it all, I was only interested in a happy outcome for them.
Who got murdered and why they got murdered was very predictable to me, even though the author tried to play it out in such a way that you are not sure of who actually kicked the bucket until the very end. What I loved about the book was that it was so atmospheric, the environment so raw and menacing. The remote wilderness, the trees, the mountains and the silence was palpable and thoroughly enjoyable. But all in all, the predictability of the story teamed with a cast of unlikeable characters in an isolated setting left me with a tepid response. It is a satisfying one-day read but you will not be carrying the story forward with you,