This book was lent to me by a friend at the pub on a Saturday night, with the intruiging introduction of ‘I knew exactly what was going to happen, but my friend said she didn’t have a clue until the very end, so I’ll be interested to see what you think’. Challenge accepted, after a quick scan of the blurb and with her assurance that she loved it, I am absolutely down to read this book. I started it yesterday morning and found myself unable to go to bed last night until I had finished it. It was brilliant.
The bit that really gave this book its edge for me was the way that it was written half in the present and half in the lead up to the murder on New Years Eve. The group arrive and you immediately start to look for divisions between them, for possible frictions and motives – walking in knowing that somebody isn’t walking out makes everyone a suspect, and everyone a potential victim.
I loved how I was double guessing myself all the way through. You don’t know who the victim is until near the end of the book – as the present day story and the build-up story both get closer and closer to the end, you start to get ideas of who might have done it (and who might be getting done), but nothing is certain. It was very well-written and had me totally unable to tear myself away.
The parts of the book written in past tense are from multiple perspectives, and give insight into the structure of the group – the different links/ alliances/ old grievances. These are first person perspectives of Emma, Katie and Miranda with intruiging third person sections following the gamekeeper Doug. From the beginning I was looking for that big clue – after all my friend claimed to have guessed the outcome right from the start – and I thought I had it. I sent her a message early on, fairly convinced that I had it pegged. But then the story progressed, new drama and secrets began to unfold and I wasn’t sure anymore. I thought I worked out who the victim was going to be, but now there were multiple people who might be pushed over that edge. i wasn’t sure.
The present day perspective is by Heather, one of the staff on the estate where this drama is unfolding. She finds herself cast into the uncomfortable situation of managing this unfolding tragedy while the police attempt to make their way in through the unassailable weather conditions, meaning that nobody can get in and nobody can leave, and they know that one of their party is the murderer. It makes for some tense times as Heather works through the (little) information available, building up to the reveal of the murderer right at the end of the story, coinciding with the past-tense narrative catching up to the moment of the murder itself.
I enjoyed the pace and the way that it played with your mind. As a ‘whodunnit’ with twelve suspects after the act you need to pay a bit of attention in the first few chapters to get your head around who everyone is – but once you have they are all very clearly defined as their own characters. It is well-written and suspenseful, and utterly gripping. The first thing I did this morning was send the details to another friend who LOVES psychological thrillers and told her to head over to the library and get it. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in ‘whodunnit’s, murder mysteries, psychological thrillers (and so on, and so forth).
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