Ever since college, these nine friends have remained close. This year, only eight of them will go home from their New Years' party.
While Miranda and Katie are childhood friends and bonded with Julien, Mark, Samira, Giles, Nick, and Bo while they were at Oxford or soon after, Emma didn't become part of the group until she married Mark just a few years ago. For that reason, she has gone all out to plan this year's New Year’s gathering at a remote Scottish hunting lodge. "Very exclusive," she reports. "They only let four parties stay there each year." She's had the place stocked with truffles, foie gras, and other delicacies, and Miranda and Julien have brought a case of Dom Pérignon. As we turn the first page of Foley's (The Invitation, 2016, etc.) debut thriller after several historical novels, it is Jan. 2, 2019. Heather, the manager of Loch Corrin, receives a breathless visit from Doug, the rough-hewn and scary/sexy gamekeeper. He has found the body of the missing guest. We won't know which guest that is, of course, for quite some time. The tense tale of this ill-fated reunion is told in flashbacks from several different characters' perspectives, each with a different angle and a different dark secret in his or her past, as is classic in this form of the whodunit. It seems likely that the killer comes from the ranks of the guests—there's a good bit of interpersonal tension, much of it generated by the extreme gorgeousness of Miranda, the queen bee of the crowd. Her relationship with her husband, Julien, is surely not the bed of roses the others believe, and her so-called best friend, Katie, seems to hate her guts. On the other hand, there's mention of a serial killer on the loose in the Highlands, so who's that sneaking around in the woods?
Plot, reasonably clever. Setting, nicely done. Characters, two-dimensional stereotypes, but you can't have everything.