STAFF PICK: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Title: The Hunting Party
Author: Lucy Foley
Narrators: Moira Quirk, Imogen Church, Elle Newlands, Morag Sims, Gary Furlong

When I was 12, my mum and I used to go to the library every week, and I would get four Agatha Christie novels, read them all in a couple of days, return them, and then pick out another four the following week. This was my first introduction to the mystery genre, and it lead me into becoming a big fan of everything mystery, thriller, and suspense.

I was intrigued by this book, because the premise seemed very like And Then There Were None, but apart from the idea of a group of people going to a remote house in the country, this psychological suspense thriller is quite different.

A group of old college friends spend every New Year’s Eve together. Now in their thirties, they have grown apart but still continue to plan this event (even though you get the feeling that for many of them, it’s not something that they want to be a part of). This year, they have chosen to stay in a secluded Scottish hunting lodge, which is the perfect place for them to unwind and reconnect with each other…in theory.

They arrive on December 30th, but within a day, a blizzard has trapped them inside the lodge, and by New Year’s Day, one of them is found murdered. But who did it? One of the other guests? A lodge staff member? Or one of the friends themselves?

Lucy Foley does an amazing job of creating characters who, on one hand, are sympathetic enough for you to identify with, but on the other, have enough secrets and faults to make you dislike them, and think that they might be the murderer. The chapters are narrated by a series of narrators, so you can’t be entirely sure that the accounts you are listening to are at all accurate. Not only do you not find out who the murderer is till the very end, you also aren’t entirely sure of the victim until part way through, which is quite an interesting twist on the “whodunnit?” theme.

In an almost Breakfast Club way, each character is quite different, and at points, somewhat stereotypically so. Miranda is beautiful, but troubled. Katie is seen as quiet and plain, but is hiding a secret. Emma seems like the perfect girlfriend and friend, but is she? Emma’s boyfriend, Mark, seems calm, but has a wicked temper, and Miranda’s husband Julien is certainly hiding something, but what is it? And what about the staff at the lodge? Heather, Doug and Iain? Who would choose to live in the middle of nowhere, unless they had something to hide or were running away from something?

The multi-narrator format of this book really lends itself to the audiobook format. It feels like a group of people are narrating an account of what really happened – which makes it even more spooky.

I truly loved this book. I went through the whole thing in one day, and didn’t want to stop listening. If you’re a fan of Ruth Ware or Gillian Flynn, this is definitely the listen for you. So far my favorite listen of the year!

Publisher Summary:

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
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.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

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 one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Read more and sample the audio

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Audiobooks.com interview with Jody Gehrman, author and narrator of Watch Me

If you’re a fan of dark, twisted psychological thrillers, Jody Gehrman‘s Watch Me: A Gripping Psychological Thriller, will leave you guessing until the very end. Listen to our interview with the author to find out the inspiration behind the story, her advice for aspiring narrators and authors, and more!

 

Audiobooks.com: Watch Me is a psychological thriller about how far obsession can go. Where did the inspiration for the novel come from?

 

Jody: I’m a professor at a small college and I’ve been teaching at the college level for two decades, so I’ve seen a lot of changes on campus and was thinking about how much fear had entered into the campus equation in the last two decades. We were doing trainings about active shootings and what to do if God forbid that ever happened, and I was thinking about that and wanted to find a way to personalize that fear, to express it through two characters. At the same time, I had been thinking a lot about women – and certainly this happens to men, too, but especially women – when you turn a certain corner in your life and you no longer feel very visible or relevant. You start to feel less seen, and I realized how vulnerable that can make a person feel, especially if there’s someone who does give them that attention.

 

Audiobooks.com: You describe yourself as a lifelong audiobook lover. What ignited your passion for audiobooks and audio in general?

 

Jody: My obsession with it predates this wonderful renaissance we’re going through with audiobooks. I found a collection of tape cassettes at the library ages ago that were old, 1940s radio drama. I just fell in love with this form of storytelling and drama. there’s something so nurturing about coming home, doing the dishes, and having someone tell you a story. it’s the most fantastic, nurturing thing to just shut off and become the listener.

 

Audiobooks.com: Absolutely! So how did the opportunity to narrate your own novel arise?

 

Jody: I let Macmillan Audio know that I listened to one or two books a week and am really obsessed with [audiobooks], and had all kinds of ideas about narrators. They were open to that and I sent them a list of narrators. As I was listening to possible narrators for the role of Kate, I couldn’t fight this nagging feeling that I wanted to read it myself. So I told them I really do understand that sometimes, the author is not the best person to read their work. But I wanted them to audition me on equal footing with other narrators just to pick the person they felt would work best and so they asked me to do it. I absolutely loved reading my own work and kind of visiting it from that angle. It was a completely different perspective on the book for me.

 

Audiobooks.com: What do readers gain from listening to the audiobook that they miss out on if they just read the print version?

 

Jody: One of the things that struck me in listening to especially Holter [Graham]’s section was that he really brought out a lot of humor in the character, Sam, and he’s not inherently a funny character – he’s a really demented person, rather a scary brain to inhabit. i love the way he was able to make me laugh out loud. i don’t know that i would have that experience just reading the book.

 

Audiobooks.com: What advice would you give someone interested in narrating, writing a book, or both?

 

Jody: I’m not going to pretend to be an expert, but because I do listen to so many audiobooks, I notice a lot of things narrators do well and things they do not so well. I think a big part of it is trying to sink into the spirit of the work and not overdramatize.

Part of what a good narrator does is they disappear; they’re no longer thinking about their voice. they’re lost in the story.

The temptation for actors much of the time is to really have a huge variation in the voices – for example, for a man to go really high on the woman’s voices or vice versa for women. I think that’s mostly distracting. In my opinion, less is more.

If the hope is to be a novelist because you love to write, because you love to write more than anything, that’s the biggest secret to making it – indulging that love and writing as often as you can. I know most of us have busy lives and it’s hard to carve out space. Figure out a daily practice to keep working and use that love of writing to balance out the more crazy making aspects of the industry. For example, pitching, promoting and selling your work are necessary, but they’re not the heart of being a writer. The actual heart is writing.

 

Audiobooks.com: Do you think you’ll narrate any future novels you put out into the world?

 

Jody: I would love to. I don’t want to force it. If I write a character that isn’t in the right age range or demographic, I certainly would prefer that someone who fits better would be the person. But I’m also getting more interested in the issues of being in your late 30s and 40s and experiencing the changes you go through in those time periods, so maybe I will fit the right demographic. I certainly would love to do it again.

 

Watch Me.

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor, the follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman a decade younger. She fears no one will ever truly look at or know her again. Except for Sam Grist, her most promising student. A talented writer who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, he’s not just there to be a great writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years. As he makes his way into her life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire.
Read more and sample the audio.

 

This interview has been condensed and edited. For the full interview, listen here.

 

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