‘That’s the thing about old friends, isn’t it? Sometimes they don’t even realise that they no longer have anything in common. That maybe they don’t even like each other any more.’
A group of friends from university travel to a remote lodge in the Scottish Highlands for their annual New Year’s Eve retreat. They are snowed in, with no-one able to get in or out. One of them ends up dead. I actually spent my New Year’s Eve last year/this year in the Highlands with my closest friends, hence why I wanted to pick this book up – and rest assured, I had a great time. This group, however, has grown apart over the years, building up secrets and resentments, and everything between them is not as it first appears. There were twists and turns even in the book’s final pages, and you don’t actually know who the killer is, or even who is killed, until the latter half of the novel. Although I realise this may disappoint some people it kept me on the edge of my seat, and I raced through this book in a few hours! It provides a modern twist on classic murder mystery tropes which I found to be very readable, although I understand this would not be everyone’s cup of tea.
‘Julien gets away with a little too much as far as I’m concerned. People seem prepared to let him act as he likes, partly because he’s so good looking, and partly because he can turn on the charm like throwing a switch.’
Also not everyone’s cup of tea, not even their own – the characters. Most of them are elitist snobs and they’re very unlikeable, yet as the novel progresses and we learn more about them all – it does not excuse their behaviour, but it does go some way to explaining it. The story is told from the perspectives of three of the guests – Miranda, Katie, and Emma – as well as two of the estate’s employees, Heather and Doug. As well as this, the novel alternates between past and present, beginning ‘Now’ when the body has been discovered and then exploring events of the days leading up to it. These changes in time and perspective are done seamlessly, and I found myself wanting to immediately re-read the book after I put it down, to see what twists and turns I had missed the first time around.
I will freely admit that I do not read many mysteries apart from those written by Agatha Christie, so you should take my review with a pinch of salt. But for what it’s worth, this was an engrossing and fast-paced read that I’d definitely hunt down in a bookshop near you.