Publication Date: February 12th, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow
Page Count: 336
Why I Picked It Up: Locked Room Mysteries are one of my favorite tropes! And thanks to TLC Book Tours for putting me on the tour. They sent me the book in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: From Amazon- During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
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.
Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
My Thoughts: This was a slow build. It took me about 60% of the way through to really get into it. It’s one of those books with a trope that bothers me- something BAD has happened, there’s someone around with a BAD PAST, but they spend the majority of the book referring to the bad thing before the readers get to find out what that was. By the end, I kind of stopped caring. There was also a fair amount of insincere foreshadowing- “nothing bad could happen, could it?” when you knew damn well there was every reason to believe that some bad, in fact, was going to happen. There was a stalker, a serial killer, a “shadowy figure on the grounds”, possible statues, an Islandic couple, the gameskeeper, the poachers, the shifty history of the estate… not to mention the friends themselves, who were, by all accounts, all pretty terrible. Something else that was a bit jarring was the narration style. The characters are often talking right to the reader- “I know you’re probably thinking this sounds terrible of me.” – including the deceased. Who are they talking to? It was sporadic and I think the whole story would have had a better flow without.
All of this said, there were some pretty redeeming qualities. A major theme of the book is how old friends can bring out the best and worst in you. And how when you are friends with someone for such a long time, it can be easy to fall back into the roles that were established when you were younger. I guessed one of the twists relatively early, but there was a second that entertained and surprised me. There were two characters that I did really like toward the end, and I was happy to find out more about them. I’m not the reader that needs to have my characters likeable- but I do need them to read authentic.
I think this would have been better served with a few less story lines. You should know, though, that I tend not to like books with too many characters (think Into the Water by Paula Hawkins), so if that doesn’t bother you, then you might like this. The ending was just a touch abrupt for my taste and I would have liked to know more about how the group was doing after the left the estate. But that’s personal preference. I’m at about 3.5 stars.
Read Alike: I'm thinking this would work for fans of Riley Sager’s Tell Me Lies (a book I liked, but didn’t love).
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