The Party House by Lin Anderson

As a huge fan of this author’s series featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, I was keen to try The Party House, a standalone thriller set in the Scottish highlands. The book opens with a flashback to when seventeen-year-old Ailsa was last seen alive. Five years on and the mystery of her disappearance has never been solved. The locals are angry that the Blackrig estate plan to reopen ‘the party house’ as their disregard for lockdown rules led to six deaths in the village. Some of the young men in the village set out to vent their anger, but get more than they bargain for when they uncover the body of a young woman. Has Ailsa been found at last and, if it is her, how did she die?

Lin Anderson paints an authentic picture of life on an isolated estate in the Scottish highlands – contrasting the beautiful scenery, and peace and quiet of the woodlands, with the mistrust of strangers, everyone knowing each other’s business, and the dislike of the estate being owned by an investment company and used as a playground for the rich.

The characters are well drawn and believable, though none are particularly likeable. The relationship between Greg and Joanne is not entirely convincing to me, as they are hiding so much from each other, but when their secrets are disclosed their behaviour is at least understandable. It is fairly obvious that they did not meet by accident – the question is why? As the police investigation continues, old wounds are opened up as everyone is once again under suspicion. I found The Party House to be an extremely enjoyable tense and atmospheric thriller, and look forward to the next in the Rhona MacLeod series. Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.